Up Front: The OL so far (non-conference edition)

rockford

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Let me start by saying that as far as the OL – and this entire team – is concerned … I don't think the sky is falling.

My review of the OL so far is based on about 2.5 games. Thanks to some Hulu voodoo, I missed the first nine plays of the Fresno St. game, as well as the entire second half and overtime. (I watched in real time, but I was too busy receiving CPR to take notes.)

Through the non-conference slate (or at least, what I've been able to see of it), the OL scored a cumulative RER (Rockford Efficiency Rating) of 89.2% run blocking, and 88.6% pass blocking.

What does that mean? Well, for an individual player, 85% is probably the lower boundary for a starter. If you can't consistently score better than 85%, you're probably not going to stay in the lineup long-term, unless there are no real alternatives.

The upper boundary, of course, is 100%. Except that it isn't, because not only is no one perfect, no one even comes close, even for a single game. We probably run 60-70 plays per game, and even the very best are gonna screw up on at least a few.

What that means is that there's a narrow band where players' individual RERs typically fall, probably between about 83 and 93. You can think of them this way:

85 = Average
91 = All-Conference

So, that being said, here are the individual RERs through the non-conference slate (or 2.5 games):

Run Blocking
92.2% Faalele
91.1% Schlueter
90.4% Andries
88.5% Olson
83.7% Dunlap

Pass Blocking
92.9% Olson
91.9% Andries
87.1% Faalele
86.0% Dunlap
84.9% Schlueter

A few notes:

Andries – Playing at an All-Conference level.

Faalele – Very quietly putting together a solid campaign. Even though it seems the team rarely runs directly behind him, he's been a bulldozer in the ground game. When he blocks down, the left side of the defensive line tends to go down. He oftentimes makes it look so easy, I have to wonder how hard he's trying. Seriously, I don't get the feeling I've ever seen him exert maximum effort. Unfortunately, that's particularly true of his pass blocking. He sometimes seems to forget to move his feet, and ends up being very susceptible to an outside speed rush.

Olson – While he may be an above-average center, I have a sneaking suspicion he may be even more effective at guard. Yeah, it's early yet, but Olson was much more effective than an 88.5% run blocker as a guard last year. Dude had no trouble getting to the second level and chopping down a LB, something it doesn't seem he's been asked to do as a center this year. And right now, it appears we have a need for more mobility (and dependability) on the right side of the line.

Schlueter – Sam remains the favorite whipping boy for a few folks around here, but he's been a strong run blocker, very quick, aggressive and powerful. His pass blocking, while still leaving much to be desired, seems to be improving. Still, that progress has only gotten him to the “barely adequate” level as a pass protector. Hopefully, he keeps getting better.

Dunlap – It hasn't been an auspicious start for Dunlap. He's not clicking in the ground game the way this offense needs him to, and his pass blocking has been barely adequate. He's young, of course, and seems to possess all the physical attributes, so it's likely only a matter of time before he settles in. The question is, how long can we wait?

If the staff feels compelled to make a change, I'd warrant that Schmitz takes over at center, with Olson and Andries going back to the guard positions they held last year. That reunites Andries and Faalele, who worked together extremely well on the right side last season. And moving Olson back to the more-familiar LG spot – where he did extremely well last year – may provide some measure of pass blocking support for Schlueter.

HOWEVER, there's no way of knowing what the staff sees everyday. All we can go by is what we see in games, and there's been practically no opportunity to critique any other offensive linemen during games. Which by itself may tell us that the staff doesn't view any backup player as breathing down the neck of a starter.

On the other hand, Schlueter was the starting RT last year … until he wasn't. At some point, the staff had seen enough, and Faalele got his chance.

We won't know how they feel about Dunlap's play until (or if) he's no longer starting.

I'll put up some more numbers in the next day or two.

JTG
 

matt

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This is great stuff rockford! You mentioned it in one of the threads, but what was the substitution that happened on the interior in the last game for a play or two? Was it the change that you recommended for consideration with Olson and Andries playing LG and RG, respectively?
 
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This is great. I especially like the use of the tenths of a percent to show how precise the measurement is. You'd never know that Minnesota is 12th in the conference in rushing yards per game or 13th in yards per rush. Or 14th in sacks allowed per game as well as tackles for loss allowed per game. But hey, what do those "facts" mean when you've got 4 different guys above "all conference" in one discipline or another?
 

hungan1

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On the eye test, it looks like the Gophers Offensive Line is a leaky boat. Somehow, they have to find a way to pluck the holes. Rowing the boat faster as they come close to the shore like they are doing now will only get them far. They can't make it a habit as they get in deeper waters of B1G play or they'll all drown when the boat sinks.

Losing both Jared Weyler (he was the signal caller who gelled the team together in their late season triumphs) and Donnell Greene are a bigger deal than I thought.

Somehow I get the feeling that as the OL goes, so does the season. They need to get in sync fast.

How does Wisconsin and Iowa compare to the Gophers in terms of Offensive Linemen? Both the GOphers and Wisconsin have 16 on their rosters. Iowa has 21.

Wisc - https://247sports.com/Team/Wisconsin-85/Roster/
Iowa - https://247sports.com/Team/Iowa-69/Roster/
Gophers - https://247sports.com/Team/Minnesota-75/Roster/

The Gophers were able to run the ball effectively last season. They somehow need to find that magic formula. It may take a few games for the line to gel together a luxury they don't have, and they need to figure it out ASAP.
 
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PitinoFan

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Faalele not trying hard is pretty concerning, but at least it looks like he can do the job on the plays where he does try hard. Dunlap, on the other hand, looks like he lacks technique. He easily gets pushed around, which is inexcusable at his size. I just watched the third and 30 play, and he got shoved all the way back, almost into Morgan’s lap. Morgan’s arm came close to getting hit by the D lineman, and Dunlap is lucky he didn’t get called for holding.


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hungan1

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Faalele not trying hard is pretty concerning, but at least it looks like he can do the job on the plays where he does try hard. Dunlap, on the other hand, looks like he lacks technique. He easily gets pushed around, which is inexcusable at his size. I just watched the third and 30 play, and he got shoved all the way back, almost into Morgan’s lap. Morgan’s arm came close to getting hit by the D lineman, and Dunlap is lucky he didn’t get called for holding.


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Both Dunlop and Faalele are still babies. They need to go to mean school.
 

rockford

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This is great stuff rockford! You mentioned it in one of the threads, but what was the substitution that happened on the interior in the last game for a play or two? Was it the change that you recommended for consideration with Olson and Andries playing LG and RG, respectively?
IIRC, both times when a guard went down, Schmitz came in at center and Olson slid to G. I think the first time it was Dunlap out, and Olson came in at RG. The second time it was Andries, and (again, I think) Olson took his spot at LG.

I'm not necessarily recommending the staff make a change in OL personnel. Like I said, it's hard to know what they're seeing at practice everyday. I just think that if they're going to make a change, the two instances mentioned above would seem to indicate that Schmitz is the first man up.

JTG
 

MNVCGUY

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Both Dunlop and Faalele are still babies. They need to go to mean school.
Don't know about the mean school comment but in terms of experience they are both just getting started and people need to remember that it usually takes offensive lineman a few years to really develop at the college level. Dunalap and Faalele are physically built like Big Ten offensive lineman already but they have very little game experience (especially Dunlap).

Skill guys can come in right away and make an impact, with lineman (especially offensive lineman) it usually takes time for them to gain the size, strength, and experience to really compete at this level. It is frustrating to see as a fan but the best thing we can do in a lot of cases like this is let them keep learning and developing on the job.

As has been pointed out in other threads about the O-Line one of the best things we have going for us is the fact that all 10 lineman listed on the 2 deep should be back again next year. That bodes really well for 2020 but of course might mean suffering through some growing pains now.
 

rockford

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Faalele not trying hard is pretty concerning, but at least it looks like he can do the job on the plays where he does try hard.
Just to clarify: I'm not saying Faalele isn't trying hard. I'm saying he sometimes moves people around so easily that it seems effortless.

But as imposing as he is physically, there doesn't seem to be a lot of explosion in him ... yet. The good news is that for a relative newcomer to football, his technique is solid. But being a newcomer, I don't think he realizes -- yet -- just how huge of a force he can be.

Faalele is like Spinal Tap -- his controls go all the way to 11. He just hasn't learned how to turn it up all the way yet.

There are technicians and there are head-bangers. Faalele is a good technician. But I'd love to see him bang more heads when the opportunity arises.

JTG
 

MplsGopher

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Olson has started at every interior position in his career. He did start at RG earlier.

For the sake of not breaking up whatever chemistry Schlueter and Andries have built up so far, I would probably put Olson at RG and bring in JMS at center, if I was going to make any change at all.

I think it's a low probability that we'll see that this season, barring injury. I think the staff has made commitments to Dunlap that they're not yet prepared to break, unless his performance really forces their hand. Is he single-handedly losing games for us, so far? No. Maybe some bad plays in each game, but keeping him in there is the fastest way to build his experience. He has all the physical tools in the world. Just got to match his head to his body.
 

MplsGopher

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rockford, do you have the grades for each player, for each game? IE, three datapoints for each of the five, so far?
 

hungan1

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I think a behemoth like Faalele can only be pushed around so much before you start getting tired. He can put the peddle to the meddle late in the 4th Quarter when the opposing DLs are spent. He needs to get that Maori Warrior Mentality. Maori Warriors ate, slept, and drank to fight and kill. IMHO, growing up in Australia must have soften him up.
 
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rockford

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rockford, do you have the grades for each player, for each game? IE, three datapoints for each of the five, so far?
Yep, here you go! And thanks!

Scores are in game order:

Rushing
Schlueter: 89.2, 95.6, 91.2
Andries: 94.6, 88.9, 86.8
Olson: 87.4, 88.9, 86.8
Dunlap: 82.9, 82.2, 85.1
Faalele: 88.3, 97.8, 93.9

Passing
Schlueter: 75.8, 100, 85.7
Andries: 86.4, 97, 93.5
Olson: 97, 97, 89.7
Dunlap: 85.7, 97, 83.3
Faalele: 84.9, 75.8, 91.3

The numbers from the second game are a little funky, since they include less than half the plays of the other two games. (I missed the first nine plays and the entire second half and OT.)

All told, we have data from 90 rushes and 75 passes, and are probably missing around 40-45 plays.

JTG
 

Pompous Elitist

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Bottom line is the guys don’t have any explosive running plays 20+ yards, and rank 11th in conference for plays 10+ yards with 9. Yards per play is 13th in the conference.

Are we blaming the sub-par performance on one player, if the other 4 are above average? Or, is it the backs? Scheme/playcalling? Not adjusting to defenses? Combination?

Recent Gopher history is pretty slow starts and improvement in the latter half of the season. Obviously everyone wants to...hurry that along.



.
 
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MplsGopher

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Let me know if this is too busy. I was trying to put the actual data as well as the average (over games) on the same plot.
 

rockford

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I like it!

Two suggestions, FWIW:

1) Instead of having each lineman's average represented by a horizontal line, how about just two horizontal lines: one each for the team RER in rushing and pass blocking. That way we can see where a particular player elevated (or brought down) the team average.

2) Is it possible to stack these, instead of placing them side-by-side? I like my graphics like I like my linemen: the bigger the better. :cool:

Thanks for doing these! They're a most welcome contribution.

JTG
 

everybody knows my name

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This is great. I especially like the use of the tenths of a percent to show how precise the measurement is. You'd never know that Minnesota is 12th in the conference in rushing yards per game or 13th in yards per rush. Or 14th in sacks allowed per game as well as tackles for loss allowed per game. But hey, what do those "facts" mean when you've got 4 different guys above "all conference" in one discipline or another?
It's fun to be sarcastic sometimes, but it's rarely productive.

Rockford, whether you appreciate his efforts or not, grades Dunlap as miserably below average at run blocking and both Dunlap and Schleuter and Dunlap as barely competent at pass blocking. It only takes one weak link to break a chain, right?
 

tmvander

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Am I the only one who noticed Rockford say he was receiving CPR during one of the games? Rockford is all good man?
 

rockford

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This is great. I especially like the use of the tenths of a percent to show how precise the measurement is. You'd never know that Minnesota is 12th in the conference in rushing yards per game or 13th in yards per rush. Or 14th in sacks allowed per game as well as tackles for loss allowed per game. But hey, what do those "facts" mean when you've got 4 different guys above "all conference" in one discipline or another?
Thanks for your contribution. Where should I begin?

Well, first, let's look at my original post, which only stated that Andries was playing at an all-conference level.

Then, let's consider the “fact” that three of these five guys were in fact Honorable Mentions on the media's all-conference team last year. Is it beyond the realm of probability that the performances of these three are at least hovering near all-conference level ths year? (Which, BTW, is a more accurate interpretation of what I said in the OP.)

Second, the tenths of a percent you deride provide the only meaningful distinction in the data. What is more accurate: a 10-point scale or a 100-point scale?

Finally, I'll stand by my judgement, which was formed while watching 165 offensive plays from scrimmage somewhere around 900 times.

Now, I don't claim to be an unassailable authority. (“I've never made any secret of the fact I'm just passing through here on my way to Australia.”) But if you think it's untoward of me to provide my opinion after spending that much time with the material, perhaps you'd be better off reading some other threads.

JTG
 
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Jeshurun

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Thanks for your contribution. Where should I begin?

Well, first, let's look at my original post, which only stated that Andries was playing at an all-conference level.

Then, let's consider the “fact” that three of these five guys were in fact Honorable Mentions on the media's all-conference team last year. Is it beyond the realm of probability that the performances of these three are at least hovering near all-conference level ths year? (Which, BTW, is a more accurate interpretation of what I said in the OP.)

Second, the tenths of a percent you deride provide the only meaningful distinction in the data. What is more accurate: a 10-point scale or a 100-point scale?

Finally, I'll stand by my judgement, which was formed while watching 165 offensive plays from scrimmage somewhere around 900 times.

Now, I don't claim to be an unassailable authority. (“I've never made any secret of the fact I'm just passing through here on my way to Australia.”) But if you think it's untoward of me to provide my opinion after spending that much time with the material, perhaps you'd be better off reading some other threads.

JTG
I appreciate your efforts with this. Looking at the individual games it shows that our line isn’t necessarily terrible, just wildly inconsistent and not playing as a cohesive unit. Los Venerables is just sore about the beat down we gave his team last year.
 

Pete smith

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What we are finding out, it is difficult for a young offensive lineman to be proficient at both run blocking and pass blocking. Two different “animals “. Takes A+ coaching to handle this dilemma. Teams that do, have great success.
 

rockford

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I appreciate your efforts with this. Looking at the individual games it shows that our line isn’t necessarily terrible, just wildly inconsistent and not playing as a cohesive unit.
Yes, to a large extent.

I wouldn't say we're wildly inconsistent. Our strengths are our strengths, and our weaknesses are our weaknesses. But you nailed it with the "cohesive unit" comment. Last year, I was extremely impressed at the ease with which our linemen handed off attackers. Simple twists were no problem. This year, we botch those plays as often as we execute them.

Inability to make blocks at the second level is another big part of it. Those blocks are integral to springing backs for longer runs, which we've been lacking. You can get a RB through the line, but if the LB is standing there waiting, he ain't going far.

Patience is likely the best course. As I said elsewhere, I have about two games' worth left. :)

JTG
 
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Lakeville Goldy

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This is great. I especially like the use of the tenths of a percent to show how precise the measurement is. You'd never know that Minnesota is 12th in the conference in rushing yards per game or 13th in yards per rush. Or 14th in sacks allowed per game as well as tackles for loss allowed per game. But hey, what do those "facts" mean when you've got 4 different guys above "all conference" in one discipline or another?
So, to summarize...

Someone puts a ton of effort in to come up with a meaningful way to grade offensive line play, spends a ton of time watching games to grade offensive line play, puts that information on a free website, and your response is to trash his work. Nice.

Because I'm sure you have data play by play to refute what he came up with, right?

It's not unreasonable to question the ratings or the methods, but hey, why be respectful or appreciative when you can just be snarky?

Rockford - thanks for the great analysis!
 

Maverick

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I like it!

Two suggestions, FWIW:

1) Instead of having each lineman's average represented by a horizontal line, how about just two horizontal lines: one each for the team RER in rushing and pass blocking. That way we can see where a particular player elevated (or brought down) the team average.

2) Is it possible to stack these, instead of placing them side-by-side? I like my graphics like I like my linemen: the bigger the better. :cool:

Thanks for doing these! They're a most welcome contribution.

JTG
I love it! Thanks for the great work you two are doing!

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 

Jeshurun

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So, to summarize...

Someone puts a ton of effort in to come up with a meaningful way to grade offensive line play, spends a ton of time watching games to grade offensive line play, puts that information on a free website, and your response is to trash his work. Nice.

Because I'm sure you have data play by play to refute what he came up with, right?

It's not unreasonable to question the ratings or the methods, but hey, why be respectful or appreciative when you can just be snarky?

Rockford - thanks for the great analysis!
He’s a sconnie troll. What do you expect?
 

GFBfan

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He’s a sconnie troll. What do you expect?
Maybe he can use the RER and go through the rest of the BIG teams and come up with each OL grade so we can compare the entire league. I'm sure the writers and coaches would appreciate it as they would be able to make their All-Conference selections from it.
Great work Rockford. Keep it up.
 

MplsGopher

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I like it!

Two suggestions, FWIW:

1) Instead of having each lineman's average represented by a horizontal line, how about just two horizontal lines: one each for the team RER in rushing and pass blocking. That way we can see where a particular player elevated (or brought down) the team average.

2) Is it possible to stack these, instead of placing them side-by-side? I like my graphics like I like my linemen: the bigger the better. :cool:

Thanks for doing these! They're a most welcome contribution.

JTG
v0.1 - split into individual imgs in case someone might actually quote one of these one day (ha!), added season to title, removed cuml. avg. line for each player and replaced with cuml. avg. for team.


 

rockford

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Very, very nice, @MnplsGopher! Thank you!

I think this gives a clearer indication of who's elevating the average, and who's bringing it down.

BTW, is the third data point for Andries missing in the Rushing RER graph?

Still bummed I don't have full-game data for Fresno St. Anybody have any clues to where I can find video?

JTG
 
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