Note: This post comes from a former college player.
Hello All, my name is Ron Faulk and I will be providing some insight and/or analysis into Boise State O-Line play. I hope to give some technical insight as to what worked and what did not work and possibly why. I myself played O-Line for Boise State back in the day so I hope my insight will be useful.
Let me first explain that during any given running play or passing play there could be anywhere from minimally 5 Offensive Linemen to a maximum combination of 8 personnel involved to include the 5 O-Linemen, 1-2 Tight Ends and a Running back responsible for recognizing and picking up blitzes on passing downs. The communication and operation must be both synchronized and flawless by all involved to avoid a sack or tackle for loss on every play. Offensive Linemen have three major points of emphasis: 1) Initial Contact, 2) Sustaining the block and 3) Finishing the block. Enough with the technical aspects of Offensive Linemen play but I felt that this needed to be establish sort of, to set some expectations.
Now on to the game between Boise State Broncos and the San Jose Spartans. The Boise State starting five Offensive Linemen this week were LT - Ezra Cleveland, LG – Jake Stetz, Center – Garrett Larson, RG – Eric Quevedo, RT – John Ojukwu. Multiyear starter LG - John Molchon was out with an injury replaced by Stetz.
San Jose came into the contest ranking 107th in run defense giving up about 230 yards per game so expectations were that we should have been able to successfully run the football. The pass offense struggled during the first half. There were multiple sacks given up as well as QB hurries given up by various other Offensive Linemen. However, I did notice on the sack given up by Ojukwu, he used poor technique while being bull rushed straight back to the QB. His initial contact (punch) was poor, thus putting him in a bad position to be bull rushed. Ojukwu gave up multiple hurries during the first half and will need to correct some technical issues. There were other sacks and hurries caused by either bad technique or just being overpowered and not in the correct position by other Offensive Linemen as well. The Offensive Line must be stouter in their initial contact all while sustaining and finishing their blocks.
The Offensive Line was able to create better running lanes as well as provide decent pass protection during the first offensive scoring drive which ended with the 4th and 1 touchdown run. As the second quarter went along the offensive line was able to do a better job both running the ball and pass protecting. Aside for a couple of pressures which resulted in Hank scrambling there were no other major instances where the Offensive Linemen failed completely during the second quarter.
Overall 1st half grade for the Offensive Line I would give them a C-.
With the start of the third quarter the Bronco coaching staff made a conscience decision to emphasize the run game thus allowing the Offensive Linemen to put together some drives where they were successful running the ball. During this stretch there was major improvement in each of the linemen’s aggressiveness and ability to get push and sustain blocks. When linemen can concentrate on running the ball and imposing their will on the Defensive Line, it makes for better efforts and technique being used.
The interior linemen, Eric Quevedo, Garret Lawson and Jake Stetz all played well during the third and fourth quarters. The Broncos were able to rush for a total of 236 yards in the second half because of this improved play. Holani and AVB both were happy recipients of the renewed run emphasis. As the second half went on the Offensive Line grew stronger and began to again impose their will on the depth challenged Spartans Defensive Line who began to wilt with fatigue. I saw improvement in one on one drive blocking physicality and better double teams (see AVBs 32-yard touchdown run), which allowed linemen to come off the double team blocks and reach the 2nd level linebackers. With the sustain emphasis on running the ball in the second half it allowed the Offensive Linemen to string together physicality, aggressiveness and continuity with their blocking schemes. The Broncos even used their jumbo-package (additional 2 Tight Ends) running the ball more in the second half with great success. There also were no sacks given up in the second half which attests to the improved play during this half.
As the line play improved in the second half, Boise State began to string together touchdown scores. They scored consecutive touchdowns with 3, 9, 9, 7, and 7 play drives consisting of running plays with a pass thrown in when needed. These drives accumulated in 258 total yards of offense. Needless to say, the Offensive Line play greatly improved. Boise States’ ability to successfully run the ball coincided with total team Offensive success. When we are able to run the ball, it opened up other possibilities within the offense and play calling. They also dominated in time possession, ending up with a 32:08 to 27:52 advantage.
On a very good note, a couple of Offensive Linemen received National Recognition. Both LT Ezra Cleveland and LG Jake Stetz were selected to the Eckrich National Team of the Week for their outstanding play this week. Congrats to those two especially Jake for his next man up mentality while filling in for injured John Molchon (You can see the list here).
I feel with the Broncos already 8 games and 10 weeks into this season the Offensive Line play is subpar. The 10 year consecutive streak of having a 1000 yard rusher is in very much danger of ending and this is indicative of their play. Let’s all hope that in the coming weeks their play improves and that they can strive after the success they had in the second half of Saturday night’s winning contest.
Overall 2nd half grade for the Boise State Offensive Line I would give them a B+
Overall game grade due to the slow start and 3 first half sacks and multiple hurries is a B