The intricacies of O line play | The Boneyard

The intricacies of O line play

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I know a lot has been said about the O line in the past few weeks. The sentiment has varied between they did a good job, then they didn't do such a good job, etc., etc. But I was just wondering. Did they run consistently wider splits last season? I'm probably just seeing things, but it seems to me the splits are tighter this year. If that's the case wouldn't it make it more difficult for the running backs to 'hit the hole' or limit the close-in maneuverability of the linemen to make and pick up blocks? I'm not a FB coach and never have been, but hoping to get some feedback from those more learned on the intricacies of O line play.
 
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we're averaging just over 3 yards a carry this year, which is way down from last year AND - we're actually running with slightly MORE frequency per game, than we did last year.

The yards per carry needs to go way up. part of that is the OL, the other part is that were facing stacked defenses that are challenging us to the throw the ball, and we're not getting away from a balanced play call attack, and the other other part is that we haven't done a great job of making that one guy you can't account for miss in the holes when carrying the pig.

What I think you're seeing, is the same thing I'm seeing, and that's that our spacing on the offensive line is a little different, and it's hard to figure out anymore whether or a run or pass is coming, but I don't think it's doing anything to limit space on the field.

In fact, I'd go the opposite way, it seems to me that everything we're doing on offense now, is trying to use as much space on the field as we possibly can, when in the past we were very, very compact on offense.

Lastly, it's pretty simple when you get a new offensive system installed into an offensive line. You need to spend a ton of time just figuring out who to block. It's not until well into the system that you can really get down to how and why.
 

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Lastly, it's pretty simple when you get a new offensive system installed into an offensive line. You need to spend a ton of time just figuring out who to block. It's not until well into the system that you can really get down to how and why.
This has me hopeful for the remainder of the season. This is something that is hard to quantify so it is easy to overlook, especially for the average fan that doesn't spend hours a week (or hours every day) on a football message board. If the O-Line starts to click like it did last year in the second half, the entire offense will begin to look better and we will wonder what the hell happened in the first half of the season. Here's hoping.
 
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we're averaging just over 3 yards a carry this year, which is way down from last year AND - we're actually running with slightly MORE frequency per game, than we did last year.

The yards per carry needs to go way up. part of that is the OL, the other part is that were facing stacked defenses that are challenging us to the throw the ball, and we're not getting away from a balanced play call attack, and the other other part is that we haven't done a great job of making that one guy you can't account for miss in the holes when carrying the pig.

What I think you're seeing, is the same thing I'm seeing, and that's that our spacing on the offensive line is a little different, and it's hard to figure out anymore whether or a run or pass is coming, but I don't think it's doing anything to limit space on the field.

In fact, I'd go the opposite way, it seems to me that everything we're doing on offense now, is trying to use as much space on the field as we possibly can, when in the past we were very, very compact on offense.

Lastly, it's pretty simple when you get a new offensive system installed into an offensive line. You need to spend a ton of time just figuring out who to block. It's not until well into the system that you can really get down to how and why.

To Carl's point,
I have attended a few practices late into camp and followed DeLeone around ,when it was time for the OLine's chalk talk they all seemed to have had a tough time answering any of his situaional questions regarding their assignments. Its going to take some time and you will probably see a marked difference by the end of spring practice. (It was fascinating btw)There is simply a lot for these guys to digest.
 
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It's not the offensive line. They have played fairly well.

The reason the running numbers are down is the lack of long runs and yards after contact. What's missing is the back that breaks a tackle and turns a five yard gain into a 30 or 50 yard gain. That has a huge affect on YPC.

In the Todman or Brown years, they would rack up huge yardage after first contact. This improved the YPC of the Huskies. While McCombs has done a wonderful job of getting the yardage that is available on a play, finishes his runs, made a few guys miss, has shown decent burst and has displayed exception all security, he has not turned any short gains into long ones.

So let's not lay the YPC at the feet of the offensive line. It's a shared responsibility. And when McCombs gained 130 last week, it was almost all a result of the OL.
 

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Yes the OL did play well last week and as a result the offense looked pretty good (with the exception of red zone efficiency)
 
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It's not the offensive line. They have played fairly well.

The reason the running numbers are down is the lack of long runs and yards after contact. What's missing is the back that breaks a tackle and turns a five yard gain into a 30 or 50 yard gain. That has a huge affect on YPC.

In the Todman or Brown years, they would rack up huge yardage after first contact. This improved the YPC of the Huskies. While McCombs has done a wonderful job of getting the yardage that is available on a play, finishes his runs, made a few guys miss, has shown decent burst and has displayed exception all security, he has not turned any short gains into long ones.

So let's not lay the YPC at the feet of the offensive line. It's a shared responsibility. And when McCombs gained 130 last week, it was almost all a result of the OL.

Pal, I think your off base here, were Todman's and Brown's first contact by 300lb dlinemen?
 
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I know a lot has been said about the O line in the past few weeks. The sentiment has varied between they did a good job, then they didn't do such a good job, etc., etc. But I was just wondering. Did they run consistently wider splits last season? I'm probably just seeing things, but it seems to me the splits are tighter this year. If that's the case wouldn't it make it more difficult for the running backs to 'hit the hole' or limit the close-in maneuverability of the linemen to make and pick up blocks? I'm not a FB coach and never have been, but hoping to get some feedback from those more learned on the intricacies of O line play.
To partially address your point/question about the difficulty of "hitting the hole" with wide OL splits vs. narrow....that's a good question you bring up, and successful coaches have different philosophies on this....I think the answer to which blocking technique is "better" depends on your personnel and the overall bigger picture of how you are attacking defenses.

Wider splits do create bigger initial holes, but some of the negatives associated with that are that you create many more "1 on 1" matchups between your OL and DL since they are too far apart to help each other out with combination blocks. If the other team has talented DL, this is not a good thing. It also correspondingly can stress an OL's ability to block blitzers since there is more space available to blitzers to try and get into the backfield. It can also make it harder for running plays to get to the edge since the edge is further away when your OL spread out.

You can run effectively with wide OR narrow OL splits, it's just a matter of designing the right type of plays, and having the right personnel, to make whatever strategy you use work.
 
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The bottom line is that none of us are expert enough to know how the one yard less per carry breaks down between the TB, the OL and the coaches. My eyes tell me that McCombs isn't Todman, that this year's OL is not playing like last year's (though how much of that is individual talent and execution versus schemes, who knows), and that part of that is that they're adjusting to new ways of doing things (which may ultimately be better or worse but are worse for this OL this season).
 
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Good point coach, we are doing a lot of pulling and trapping, that leads me to think that's the reason for tighter splits. Earlier in the season I could see the linemen bumping into each other, and tangling feet. I even saw the puller looking for and not finding the guy he was to block. I didn't see that last week. So maybe the answer up front is to simplify some of the blocking schemes.
 
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Pal, I think your off base here, were Todman's and Brown's first contact by 300lb dlinemen?

McCombs is not being tackled by 300 pound lineman on every play. Very often his first contact is at the second or third level. The holes were there last week. If he had broke a tackle and gone 40 just once, our stats would lok vastly different.

McCombs is doing what he can but he is a small guy and still not up to the strength of elite backs, time will help him. This is one of the reasons I would like to see more of JJL. He is a much stronger upperclassman and that could help him break a run or two.
 
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General thoughts here.

On offense, the general goal of the 11 guys out there is to create space within the confines of the field to move the ball.

On defense, the general goal of the 11 guys out there is to leverage the confines of the field and take away and/or clog up space so the offense does not have room to move the ball.

One of the ways to create space on offense, is with the spacing on the offensive line at scrimmage. There are many, many other aspects to creating space on the field on offense. Pass route running, specific offensive formations, etc. etc.

Everything you do on the field has it's advantages and disadvantages. Being compact on offense makes it a very simple game on offense. Line up and beat down your guy, and the running back needs to either run somebody over or make somebody miss, and you're off to the races. It also makes for a very nice play action passing game with out having to send routes out all over. It can be really hard to defend, if you've got a real powerful running game, and can throw over the top of it, but if you don't, and/or you're oging against a really good defense, the defense doesnt' have a lot of work to do to close down the field.

Being wide open, and using the field sideline to sideline and endzone to endzone on offense, makes it very hard for a defense to close up the field on an offense regularly. Very hard. But you need to be able to make plays on offense in 1-1 situations and you need to put the ball in the open spaces either by running or throwing and catching. Holgorsen's offense that we saw recently is all about that. They get a RB in there that can regularly make the first guy miss, and look out. They go sideline to sideline and end zone to endzone, and we got beat 1-1 a bunch of times.

We were compact in the past on offense. We used very little space on the field and didn't do a lot to create space. We're changing that, but we're going through growing pains.
 
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Pal, I see your point, he runs better than the other backs that's why he's out there.
Your right he is not the biggest or the strongest, but he's running into a stacked deck.
Last week was the best game we had up front, if we can move the safeties and linebackers back a little you should get that breakaway run, maybe a few.
 
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McCombs is not being tackled by 300 pound lineman on every play. Very often his first contact is at the second or third level. The holes were there last week. If he had broke a tackle and gone 40 just once, our stats would lok vastly different.

McCombs is doing what he can but he is a small guy and still not up to the strength of elite backs, time will help him. This is one of the reasons I would like to see more of JJL. He is a much stronger upperclassman and that could help him break a run or two.

Is there ever a time, when there's a player on the field, that you're content seeing? I get the feeling that the guy on the sideline is always the better guy for you.
 
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Is there ever a time, when there's a player on the field, that you're content seeing? I get the feeling that the guy on the sideline is always the better guy for you.

+1
 
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McCombs is not being tackled by 300 pound lineman on every play. Very often his first contact is at the second or third level. The holes were there last week. If he had broke a tackle and gone 40 just once, our stats would lok vastly different.

McCombs is doing what he can but he is a small guy and still not up to the strength of elite backs, time will help him. This is one of the reasons I would like to see more of JJL. He is a much stronger upperclassman and that could help him break a run or two.

Last week was the first time where I saw a conscious change in running where he hit holes and stayed roughly north/south instead instinctively breaking out and getting caught. He does not have the speed and does not have great change of direction and he is easy to take down. BUT, he seems to have the knack of staying small and threading and slashing through tight spaces for a few yards if he keeps moving upfield. I dont think the OLine did any better or worse in the run game. I think McCombs is learning to work withinthe seams created by a fairly powerful and effective interior run line. He may be learning he must take what is given and stop looking for the big run. He just does not have the tools to do it on his own. That said, the OLine is really poor in pass protection and it looks like an inability to pick up assignments quickly. Penetration does not appear to occur from bull rushes as much as quick pressure from the outside rush and the occasional interior missed assignments on delayed rushes/ blitzes/ twists
 
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Thanks all for your comments about O line play. All good information. Much appreciated.
Do I dare ask about the intricacies of the defensive secondary play? :)
 
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Last week was the first time where I saw a conscious change in running where he hit holes and stayed roughly north/south instead instinctively breaking out and getting caught. He does not have the speed and does not have great change of direction and he is easy to take down. BUT, he seems to have the knack of staying small and threading and slashing through tight spaces for a few yards if he keeps moving upfield. I dont think the OLine did any better or worse in the run game. I think McCombs is learning to work withinthe seams created by a fairly powerful and effective interior run line. He may be learning he must take what is given and stop looking for the big run. He just does not have the tools to do it on his own. That said, the OLine is really poor in pass protection and it looks like an inability to pick up assignments quickly. Penetration does not appear to occur from bull rushes as much as quick pressure from the outside rush and the occasional interior missed assignments on delayed rushes/ blitzes/ twists

He's not an outside runner, he's a straight ahead north and south type.
He's a big runner in a smaller guys body, he'll take the A gaps before he looks for the C gaps.
What you saw last week was, up front a better job of turning their blocks and gaining leverage, openning holes. This kid has both the speed and change of direction of a homerun hitter. You may be right, he may be learning to take what the oline is giving him, and then look for the daylight. The line looks to be in flux, one game the pass blocking is good, the run blocking is not, the next game the run blocking is good the pass blocking is not. I see slow progress, that hopefully melds very soon.
 
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