Future Blue Originals: Chris Fox
Apologies to Ace for stealing his title and not emailing him this directly but I thought this would be worthy of a diary. Last night I had a chance to watch OT/DT Chris Fox and his Ponderosa Mustangs travel to Vista Ridge High School.
Both teams came into the game undefeated at 4-0. According to MaxPreps Ponderosa is ranked 29th in the state while Vista Ridge is ranked 14th. Both teams are in the 2nd highest division, so this is probably the best competition Ponderosa will really face until the playoffs. Chris Fox is a beast he was easily the tallest person on the field, standing head and shoulders above everyone. He is listed at 6’6” and it wouldn’t surprise me if he were taller than that.
My only expertise in football is that I have watched it all 37 years of my life. The one play I had in Freshman ball was a false start. Offensive Line is very difficult to predict even for the professionals, much less a lay person like me. I will give you my observations. In addition since this isn’t the biggest school, the stands only went up 10-15 rows in the 1st and 4th quarters I had a lousy angle to watch him play on offense.
Skip ‘The Game’ and just look at ‘The Stats’ and ‘The Observations’
First Quarter: Vista Ridge’s fight song was the same as Notre Dame so I hated them immediately. The game started very defensively with neither side able to pick up a first down on their first 3 series. On offense, as I said I had a lousy angle but I didn’t see Fox getting much of a push. And if I am being harsh he was responsible for giving up a sack. It looked like they were trying to set up a screen to the other side of the field and the QB held the ball too long and ended up taking the sack. On Defense, Fox would just fling the lineman to the ground and fill the hole on running plays. On passing plays, he had absolutely no penetration to the point where I wondered if his responsibility was to sit on the line and watch for the draws. Fox played every non-special teams snap of the first quarter and he looked gassed at the end.
Second Quarter: Fox sat out the first series on defense, when he came back he looked like a new man. On offense he was got a free release to the second level and got his first pancake block on a LB leading to a big run. He got his second pancake when he pulled and absolutely leveled the DE, leading to another big run. That drive led to a TD and a 7-0 lead. At the end of the first half, Vista Ridge was trying to throw the ball and Fox came alive. He got quick penetration and forced a bad throw and an interception. On their next series, he again got in quickly and this time forced a sack, though he didn’t get the stat, he was the man that made the play.
Third Quarter: The second half started with fireworks both literally and figuratively. They set off a big fireworks display at the start of the second half which was distracting for me, and had to be for the players as well. Vista Ridge ran a reverse on the second half kickoff all the way back for a TD, but it was called back for holding. Instead Vista Ridge was forced to punt. One big run by Ponderosa got them deep in Vista Ridge Territory. On the next play Fox got a great seal block on the DE allowing the RB to get the edge and run down to the 1 yard line. They then moved Fox to the H-Back position and put him in motion, snapped the ball and right up his backside two plays in a row to take a 14-0 lead. Fox sat out the next defensive series, but his replacement had a TFL and a forced fumble. Ponderosa settled for a partially blocked FG that slipped over the cross bar. Fox back in for the next series made his best play of the game. He throws off the first defender, splits a second and third defender and gets immediate pressure on the QB who throws his 2nd INT of the game. Ponderosa did the opposite of take advantage of the turnover. A holding penalty, then a sack, followed by a false start, then culminating with a bad snap over the head of the QB leading to a turnover. Minus-30 yards on the drive. On the first play Vista Ridge triple teamed Fox and hit a deep post for a touchdown to make the game interesting at 17-7.
Fourth Quarter: On offense, Ponderosa and Fox really started to play well. For the first time all game I saw Fox really drive blocking with authority escorting his man 5-10 yards downfield. Ponderosa was also able to complete a pass or two (on the QB Waggle). However, they fumbled inside the Red Zone keeping Vista Ridge in the game. Vista went to a spread passing attack, and Ponderosa countered with a 3-man line moving Fox to NT. He was completely neutralized by that move, but Vista was unable to connect on a pass and was forced to punt. On offense once again, Ponderosa moved the ball well but stalled in the red zone and had a FG blocked. Vista Ridge was unable to capitalize once again and punted away. Ponderosa drove into Vista territory again, this time was able to seal the game on a 4th down pass play. The defender was able to tip the ball, but the receiver made a great adjustment and grabbed the ball before it hit the turf. Fox still struggled playing NT on the 3-man line, but they went to a 4 man line and almost immediately he split the double team and forced yet another INT. Ponderosa was able to punch it in to make the final score 30-7 to move to 5-0.
· Very unofficially Fox had about 6 pancakes, though a couple of those were on combo blocks
· On Defense, Fox had 1 solo TFL, 3 assists, and 4 QB pressures (resulting in 3 INT’s, 1 sack)
· The Overall Defense was very impressive, allowing maybe 4 first downs and forcing 4 turnovers.
· Ponderosa put up 30 points on a team that was only allowing 5 points/game coming into the game. They only allowed 7 points to a team that was scoring 31 points/game. Total Yards: Ponderosa 342 Vista Ridge 93; Rushing: Ponderosa 56/277 Vista Ridge 16/0
· Down blocks were good, his man couldn’t get any penetration, but I was a little disappointed in Fox’s drive blocking considering how much bigger than everyone he is, but he was definitely better in the 4th quarter.
· In short yardage situations he was submarined a lot, he kept his feet, but wasn’t able to get off and get to the next level.
· His pad level was pretty good considering he was 6 inches taller than everyone, but he did sometimes come up pretty high
· He was very strong. Yes he was bigger than everyone, but he never moved backward. Ever. Not even a little bit. I did see him block two guys at the same time once. On defense he pretty much threw his man around, and his splitting of the triple team was a thing of beauty.
· He blocked really well on the move and in space. When he got a free release to the second level or when he pulled he pretty much annihilated the defender. Sometimes he did have trouble finding someone to block on screens or clean releases to the second level, but it was rare.
· His lateral movement was pretty good. On pass protection he was able to slide out and handle the speed rushers pretty easily. Bull rushing him would have been futile. He did get beat wide once, but a) it was really really wide and b) it was a rollout to the opposite side so no harm at all. On defense, once he took on the double team and slid down the line square to the ball carrier on an outside run and allowed his teammates to swarm for a TFL.
· An oddity, he struggled with reach blocks to his left. A couple times he completely whiffed on the block. But on reach blocks to his right he was often able to seal the defender giving the RB the edge.
· Overall, I was more impressed with his defense than his offense. While he didn’t make a ton of plays himself, his disruption allowed his teammates to make a ton of plays. However, whenever Ponderosa needed yards on third down or close to the goal line they were certain to follow Fox.
If you have any questions about what I saw let me know and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.