By the Numbers: The OL Situation

fmlizard

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The numbers are in after 3 games, and they ain't good. In spite of outweighing the Vikings by roughly 40 pounds per man, and being healthy and reasonably effective last year, the Gophers OL currently sports these ranks from Football Outsiders:

98th in Line Yards
105th in Standard Down Line Yards
125th in Sack Rate
126th in Pass Down Sack Rate

Hoping they get it sorted during the bye.
 

Pompous Elitist

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Seems about right. The good news is there’s almost no way to get except except up. Two weeks.
 

Some guy

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Sack rate isn’t really an O Line stat to me.
Sacks are more a quarterback stat than O line state half the time.

Team really needs Mo and Smith to play.
Against G Southern:
R Smith 11 carries, 5.2 ypc
C Wiley 11 carries, 2.9 ypc
B Williams 14 carries, 1.6 ypc
That’s all behind the same line. Williams and Wiley aren’t as patient as Smith and Mo and it leads to negative plays and 0 yard gains when they cut back when they should have just leaned on the line for 1-4 yards.

Not saying the line isn’t playing bad. Right now the line is playing bad. I would agree.
 

GopherJack

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Heard Mase on KFAN the other day discussing the current Gopher's O Line. He said he always preferred smaller quicker offensive lineman. He specifically mentioned All American Greg Eslinger and the fact he was not a huge guy.
 

Pompous Elitist

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Rodney and Mo are both around 4 ypc on the year against average to below average defenses. The coaches will need to determine if this is technique, scheme, personnel, inexperience or a combo of all four. Anecdotally what I’m seeing is guys getting pushed backwards one on one on rush plays, sometimes multiple guys, and were familiar with the issues with pass blocking whether speed rush around the ends, stunting, or simply accounting for a defensive end. More experience and more prep will help - they’ll get better.
 

Panthadad2

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Rodney and Mo are both around 4 ypc on the year against average to below average defenses. The coaches will need to determine if this is technique, scheme, personnel, inexperience or a combo of all four. Anecdotally what I’m seeing is guys getting pushed backwards one on one on rush plays, sometimes multiple guys, and were familiar with the issues with pass blocking whether speed rush around the ends, stunting, or simply accounting for a defensive end. More experience and more prep will help - they’ll get better.
I'm not going to go back and review film like our resident OL star analyst Rockford, but my impression has been that the OL (and blocking backs) has been missing zone/gap assignments when the defense twists and stunts, but not necessarily getting physically pushed back. The Gophs run-pass option running attack takes time to develop which allows the defense to get creative in the box; the inexperienced OL hasn't handled it well at times. In a more traditional power blocking scheme with the QB under center, quick hitting hand offs could negate that. I doubt the Gophs change their whole scheme during the season, so the OL just needs to get better at reading the defense on the fly.
 

Pompous Elitist

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On some critical plays I’ve reviewed that’s exactly what’s happened sad to say. Is it frequent? Not sure, probably not. Maybe need a dose of “nasty” and “want to”...is warranted...at times. The good news is like you said more practice, mental preparation for what a defense might do will probably go a long way.
 

Schnauzer

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Biggest disappointment thus far. Hope it turns around.
 

MplsGopher

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Heard Mase on KFAN the other day discussing the current Gopher's O Line. He said he always preferred smaller quicker offensive lineman. He specifically mentioned All American Greg Eslinger and the fact he was not a huge guy.
This is something I wonder.

Faalele and Dunlap are massive human beings. No doubt they're very difficult to bull-rush. Probably a fool's errand to try it.

But speed rushes and loops/stunts with speed ... that's where I wonder if they're struggling to pick those up. You've got to be able to handle both.
 

rockford

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I'm not going to go back and review film like our resident OL star analyst Rockford, but my impression has been that the OL (and blocking backs) has been missing zone/gap assignments when the defense twists and stunts, but not necessarily getting physically pushed back. The Gophs run-pass option running attack takes time to develop which allows the defense to get creative in the box; the inexperienced OL hasn't handled it well at times. In a more traditional power blocking scheme with the QB under center, quick hitting hand offs could negate that. I doubt the Gophs change their whole scheme during the season, so the OL just needs to get better at reading the defense on the fly.
First of all -- thanks, @Panthadad2!

I agree that it seems like the OL seldom gets overpowered. What I find frustrating is that we seldom seem to get much push, either. We're seldom moving people off the line of scrimmage.

I'm frustrated that we've assembled a small mountain of supersized supermen, but seem intent on using them as massive technicians, rather than as bulldozers. I would love to see a more "power" approach. We're too passive for my tastes.

Yes, I admit I'm hopelessly old school. Football has become a finesse game, even in the trenches. But I still think there's room (occasionally) for an attitude of "I'm bigger, stronger, meaner and tougher than you, and I'm gonna drive your ass right off this line and into the defensive backfield ... and there ain't nothin' you can do about it."

We're not attacking right now. We're reacting.

JTG
 

Chucklehead

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Offensive line looks like its regressing. I thought this year they would be a strength. Maybe next year.
 

MplsGopher

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First of all -- thanks, @Panthadad2!

I agree that it seems like the OL seldom gets overpowered. What I find frustrating is that we seldom seem to get much push, either. We're seldom moving people off the line of scrimmage.

I'm frustrated that we've assembled a small mountain of supersized supermen, but seem intent on using them as massive technicians, rather than as bulldozers. I would love to see a more "power" approach. We're too passive for my tastes.

Yes, I admit I'm hopelessly old school. Football has become a finesse game, even in the trenches. But I still think there's room (occasionally) for an attitude of "I'm bigger, stronger, meaner and tougher than you, and I'm gonna drive your ass right off this line and into the defensive backfield ... and there ain't nothin' you can do about it."

We're not attacking right now. We're reacting.

JTG
That's something I never liked about inside zone plays. You don't get strong double-teams on the DL, it's more about getting guys up to the second level, and hoping for a nice cut-back lane to form.

I like more mis-direction plays for inside runs. Counters, traps, powers. You can confuse and get more movement on the DL.
 

WorkingMyTailOff

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On the much discussed 4 and 1 late in the second quarter, the interior OL got pushed two yards into the backfield.
I know it was a special teams play but on the blocked FG, maybe the gap between Olson and the long snapper was too side, but GS player just split them.
 

Urbandale

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Are the o-linemen in a three-point stance? Or are they in a two-point stance? I'm trying to picture a play, and if memory serves I don't think they've got the hand on the ground except at the goal line.

Maybe that's typical for an RPO system, but without that forward lean I would think it would be more difficult to get forward drive.
 

Pompous Elitist

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On the much discussed 4 and 1 late in the second quarter, the interior OL got pushed two yards into the backfield.
I know it was a special teams play but on the blocked FG, maybe the gap between Olson and the long snapper was too side, but GS player just split them.
That’s one of the plays I was referring to. Plays like that, or failing to account for linemen in protection on pass plays (twice now by my count) are catastrophic errors that games can turn on.
 

Panthadad2

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I would love to be a fly on the wall this week and next on potential adjustments.

I'm still curious about what changes Rossi actually implemented last year that changed the front 7 performance so much.
 

hungan1

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The numbers are in after 3 games, and they ain't good. In spite of outweighing the Vikings by roughly 40 pounds per man, and being healthy and reasonably effective last year, the Gophers OL currently sports these ranks from Football Outsiders:

98th in Line Yards
105th in Standard Down Line Yards
125th in Sack Rate
126th in Pass Down Sack Rate

Hoping they get it sorted during the bye.
In a nutshell, clod hopping galoots.
 

Gopher028

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The numbers are in after 3 games, and they ain't good. In spite of outweighing the Vikings by roughly 40 pounds per man, and being healthy and reasonably effective last year, the Gophers OL currently sports these ranks from Football Outsiders:

98th in Line Yards
105th in Standard Down Line Yards
125th in Sack Rate
126th in Pass Down Sack Rate

Hoping they get it sorted during the bye.
I know EXACTLY the reason why they are struggling. It's something we have all known for 3 seasons now.

INSIDE. ZONE. BLOCKING.
 

Gopher028

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I know EXACTLY the reason why they are struggling. It's something we have all known for 3 seasons now.

INSIDE. ZONE. BLOCKING.
SECOND REASON, (and i hate ragging on him cuz im sure he's a good kid)
but any OL that starts Sam Schlueter, will struggle. When he was pulled last year, we were obviously better.
 

Pompous Elitist

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To be fair, there really isn’t anyone that hasn’t had a fair share of issues so far. It’s everyone. The center is low snapping like crazy. Schleuter gets on skates. Dunlap is slow and getting beat every which way. Faalele is susceptible to speed rushers. Blaise hasn’t been perfect. There have been multiple plays that make you go what the heck just happened with multiple guys relatively unimpeded.

But, we’ve seen these kinds of problems before and they seem to get better in a lot of cases as the year goes by. Those teams were lucky to catch us early. By game 4,5,6 I bet we see some movement.
 

EG#9

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I readily admit that I know very little about Offensive Line play, but I wonder how much of the struggle this year has been due to the play calling by Coach Ciarrocca? The inside zone run in to stacked boxes on first down has been commonplace often leading to second and long and then potentially 3rd and long. We're not really getting teams off balance so smaller quicker defensive lineman and linebackers can pin their ears back and rush often because the Gophers are forced in to obvious passing plays. Those smaller, quicker guys who don't have to worry about getting blown off the ball on a run play are always going to be a problem for lineman weighing in at 340 plus.

Other issues with the lack of running game success. The color guy on the Georgia Southern game wen on and on about 2 things: 1. The Green Line package wasn't working because Georgia Southern was not respecting anything other than a run. He was begging the Gophers to throw a pass out of the formation. 2. Morgan was either making terrible reads or was not allowed to keep the ball on the zone plays. Time and time again he pointed out how Morgan should have kept the ball because the DE was crashing in and not respecting the keep option. In these scenarios, it seemed like we were not putting the offensive line in position to succeed either by formation, play calling or decision making.

None of this is to say I am not concerned with the offensive line as I am actually extremely concerned with the play of the group. I just wonder if there are some basic things that could be done to put them in a better position to succeed whether they actually improve or not.
 

MplsGopher

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I know EXACTLY the reason why they are struggling. It's something we have all known for 3 seasons now.

INSIDE. ZONE. BLOCKING.
That matches my armchair rube opinion.

It's designed to be simple and designed to get guys up to the second level, covering LBs. You get little to no push on the DL. Penetration kills the play. We don't use FBs or other "lead blockers" up through the hole. TEs are always on the periphery of the play.

I just don't like the scheme, per my own taste.


BUT, Rodney and Mo (and Shannon when healthy) have proven capable of getting good ypc within it, in the past.
 

MplsGopher

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SECOND REASON, (and i hate ragging on him cuz im sure he's a good kid)
but any OL that starts Sam Schlueter, will struggle. When he was pulled last year, we were obviously better.
Last year he got pulled in the Iowa game for Faalele, at right OT. He was going up against Iowa's stud DE Anthony Nelson, who was(is) a big boy himself, not a speed rusher, but more like a Bosa style large/powerful player. He embarrassed SS at times, in that game. Faalele comes in, slaps his giant meat hooks on him, and shuts him down (the plays I recall watching anyway).

But, at least last game (and maybe SDSU), he (Faalele) has had trouble with speed rushes.


According to rockford's grading, Sam has I believe not been the worst lineman on average. He has had some bad plays on pass-pro, which I think is still his biggest weakness. But for now, I don't think he is the weakest link in the OL.

If Dickson had shown enough in fall camp to earn the starting nod, he would be starting. He must just not be far enough along in development, or else there is something we don't know.
 

Some guy

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I know EXACTLY the reason why they are struggling. It's something we have all known for 3 seasons now.

INSIDE. ZONE. BLOCKING.
For sure. Nobody successfully zone blocks in football
 

short ornery norwegian

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I think what Rockford and others are getting at is this:

It seems as if the Gophers made a point of having the biggest OL they could get - but they are running an offensive style that seems to require a certain degree of mobility and quickness from the O-line - as if the system is not a good fit for the type of athletes playing O-line.

if you want big, strong road-graders, then shouldn't you go with designed plays and straight-ahead power blocking?

if you want a zone-read scheme, then shouldn't you want linemen that are a little more mobile?

there seems to be some type of contradiction here in the system they're running, and the players they have running it.

Any offensive line gurus out there feel free to chime in.
 

die hard gopher

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I think what Rockford and others are getting at is this:

It seems as if the Gophers made a point of having the biggest OL they could get - but they are running an offensive style that seems to require a certain degree of mobility and quickness from the O-line - as if the system is not a good fit for the type of athletes playing O-line.

if you want big, strong road-graders, then shouldn't you go with designed plays and straight-ahead power blocking?

if you want a zone-read scheme, then shouldn't you want linemen that are a little more mobile?

there seems to be some type of contradiction here in the system they're running, and the players they have running it.

Any offensive line gurus out there feel free to chime in.
I think Kirk and Fleck have always been inside zone guys and recruit lineman for that system but Dunlap and Faalele were just so good that you can't pass up two 4 star Under Armor All Americans just because they aren't an ideal scheme fit.
 

Some guy

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I don’t think he said or implied that no one has ever done it well before.
He said that the number two reason of the two reasons he listed was the scheme.
Implying that at or near 50% of the lack of success was due to the scheme.

So yes. I called him out for making a dumb point. Zone blocking scheme works well for hundreds of college and pro teams.
 
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