Big Dan & Co. vs. Illinois

rockford

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The OL was not immune to the contagion of ineptitude that swept through the Gophers football team last weekend. The performance by the big boys -- through the first quarter, anyway -- was far and away the worst I've seen in studying the last four games.

With Sam Schlueter making a surprise guest appearance as the starting LT, I expanded my observations to include all four starting underclassmen.

How bad did the OL perform? Well, even the blocking on the opening drive -- where the team drove 70-some yards for a TD -- was well below par. My four subjects were a combined 78% run blocking and 75% pass blocking on the drive. This possession including an amazing feat: a single run where all four of our guys failed at their blocks.

I counted four complete whiffs in the first quarter (two by Faalele). Andries had a whiff, and another run where he just simply failed to get close enough to anyone to block them. Olson nearly pulled off the trifecta in a single play, missing contact at the line and at the second level; fortunately, the play went on long enough that he eventually decked a LB who wasn't particularly vigilant.

Through the first quarter:
Faalele: 77% run blocking, 83% pass blocking
Andries: 77% run blocking, 67% pass blocking
Olson: 85% run blocking, 83% pass blocking
Schlueter: 85% run blocking, 50% pass blocking

Schlueter would have been merely bad at pass blocking, but attained a whole 'nother level of silliness by jumping offside.

More to come.

JTG
 

rockford

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For perspective, I would say that around 85% is about the lowest you'd like to see out of a starter, under my rudimentary grading system.

JTG
 

Gophers_4life

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Illinois had some dudes on the DL. Does not surprise me that we didn't do well here.
 

rockford

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Competition matters, but I didn't see a lot in the first quarter to indicate Illinois is considerably stronger on the line than OSU, Nebraska or Indiana. But that's an admittedly small sample size.

IIRC, there was more evidence of disruptive quickness by Nebraska and Indiana. There seem to have been a few more instances where Illinois DL were capable of simply holding their ground. (Only concentrated on Faalele in the OSU game, and he didn't seem to be facing top-notch talent.)

These are all impressions, not facts.

JTG
 

NotAFanOfBecky

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Illinois by all accounts then is going to be beastly for the next few years and ol' Lovie is silently building a good squad?
I think the correct answer is whoever the Gophers have played in the last few games is going to be the best up and coming team because of how god awful the defense has been. Hopefully the new guy gets it at least a little bit better this year and the long term hire is much improved. Guess we will see.
 

rockford

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No, the point is that our OL, which hasn't been horrendous, suddenly looked very subpar against competition that didn't appear to be anything super special.

Our defensive woes are a whole 'nother thing.

JTG
 

Gophers_4life

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No, the point is that our OL, which hasn't been horrendous, suddenly looked very subpar against competition that didn't appear to be anything super special.

Our defensive woes are a whole 'nother thing.

JTG
Maybe it was just a few plays, but you clearly weren't seeing ILL #93 (a 4* freshman from Dallas) *destroying* our interior OL. They had some other big plays too, I think #97? I would say that those players on those plays were certainly not average joes.
 
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MGGopher

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Thanks, rockford. Very interesting and appreciated as usual! Could be a number of things. Maybe Illinois players are improving. Maybe our guys just had a bad day. Maybe Lovie was doing unexpected things on D that had our your guys' heads spinning. Either way, those numbers are clearly not acceptable. The difference in offensive efficiency was very noticeable early in this game as compared to last week, that's for sure.
 

touchdownvikings

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rockford, your analyses are some of the best threads out there. Please keep it up, and please know that there are many of us who enjoy your work and are thankful for it.

One question: when you identify an instance where a lineman never gets close enough to block anyone, are you accounting for blocking scheme? There are instances, say in pass blocking, where a lineman is to maintain a particular alignment/position and remain alert for (1) a delayed blitz or stunt that delivers a defender in the lineman's zone; or (2) another offensive lineman to "hand off" a defender to him. If those things don't happen, for example, on a particular play, he may not get close enough to anyone to block anyone. But that would not be the result of error - it would simply be the consequence of blocking scheme combined with defensive attack strategy.
 

rockford

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Hey, thank you for those kind words. It's always good to know your contributions are appreciated. (Because, like, the pay, you know, is non-existent. :cool:)

In answer to your question: I make my best guess (based on what everyone else is doing) as to what a lineman's assignment is on a particular play. In a pass blocking situation as you describe, if a lineman gets himself in position and there happens to be no one to block, I don't hold that against him. That's a win.

Sometimes it's a bit tougher to tell. For instance, did a lineman whiff on a block, or was he simply supposed to get an inside release and work his way to the second level? Much of the time, it's fairly obvious. Sometimes you see a situation like that, and the lineman appears to be off balance when he comes off the line, like he's expecting contact and doesn't get it. It still depends on what it appears the overall scheme of attack is, but I'm more inclined to nick a lineman for something like that, especially if he doesn't move decisively to the second level and lock up with a LB. (Sometimes you see a lineman actually turn around and try to grab the DL. Then you know you have problems. :D)

I'm glad you mentioned those situations where lineman are forced to "hand off" a rusher in order to pick up a stunt or a blitz, because I've really been impressed by how our guys work together. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one instance where something like that left our guys at a disadvantage. Gotta credit that to coaching.

Thanks for reading! Gonna try to make my way through the rest of the game tonight.

JTG
 

touchdownvikings

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Hey, thank you for those kind words. It's always good to know your contributions are appreciated. (Because, like, the pay, you know, is non-existent. :cool:)

In answer to your question: I make my best guess (based on what everyone else is doing) as to what a lineman's assignment is on a particular play. In a pass blocking situation as you describe, if a lineman gets himself in position and there happens to be no one to block, I don't hold that against him. That's a win.

Sometimes it's a bit tougher to tell. For instance, did a lineman whiff on a block, or was he simply supposed to get an inside release and work his way to the second level? Much of the time, it's fairly obvious. Sometimes you see a situation like that, and the lineman appears to be off balance when he comes off the line, like he's expecting contact and doesn't get it. It still depends on what it appears the overall scheme of attack is, but I'm more inclined to nick a lineman for something like that, especially if he doesn't move decisively to the second level and lock up with a LB. (Sometimes you see a lineman actually turn around and try to grab the DL. Then you know you have problems. :D)

I'm glad you mentioned those situations where lineman are forced to "hand off" a rusher in order to pick up a stunt or a blitz, because I've really been impressed by how our guys work together. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one instance where something like that left our guys at a disadvantage. Gotta credit that to coaching.

Thanks for reading! Gonna try to make my way through the rest of the game tonight.

JTG
Makes sense. Thanks again for all you do. I look forward to your review of the rest of the game tonight - just in time for the next one tomorrow! rockford's work is never done.
 

rockford

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You know, that was a darn interesting second quarter, as far as line play goes. I wish I had time to write about it in detail, but ...

I don't have time. The big takeaway was that it was a much better performance by our OL. Collectively for the quarter, I had our four guys at 93% run blocking, 88% pass blocking. Big Dan suffered a letdown in pass blocking on our last possession, going just 3-for-5. It didn't kill us, but it sure didn't help.

For the quarter:
• Faalele 93% run, 73% pass
• Andries 100% run, 90% pass
• Olson 93% run, 100% pass
• Schlueter 87% run, 91% pass

For the half:
• Faalele 86% run, 76% pass
• Andries 89% run, 81% pass
• Olson 89% run, 94% pass
• Schlueter 86% run, 76% pass

Throw out the offsides in the first quarter, and it was a wholly serviceable half for Schlueter filling in at LT.

I'm out of time for now. If I get a chance, I'll finish scoring this one somewhere down the road. If not, it'll have to go in the record books with an asterisk. :)

Maybe it was just a few plays, but you clearly weren't seeing ILL #93 (a 4* freshman from Dallas) *destroying* our interior OL. They had some other big plays too, I think #97? I would say that those players on those plays were certainly not average joes.
It seemed like Illinois had a bit more strength and/or girth up front than what we have seen lately. At any rate, we seemed to have a tougher time getting movement up front, generally speaking.

(To do this right, a guy really ought to scout the defense ahead of time. Oh, well. So many games, so little time. :))

Thanks for reading, everyone.

JTG
 
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