Games are won and lost from tackle to tackle. And it is not so much brawn as it is brains.
Those guys never get enough credit. There is no stat that defines their performance.
Last year DJ Harper averaged 5 yards per carry and Jay Ajayi averaged 6.7 per carry. Southwick was sacked only seven times. That’s just about the only way an offensive line is judged and that’s pretty darn good.
Boise State’s tackle to tackle group besides the center are Charles Leno Jr., Rees Odhiambo, Steven Baggett, Jake Broyles, Travis Averill, Spencer Gerke, and Mario Yakoo.
Much has been said about the lack of game experience. Sure it’s good to get an underclassman in there from time to time to let him get some game-time, but good players come off the bench with no game experience and there learning curve should be no more than one snap. That’s what practice and reps are for.
This whole experience thing is always over blown and blown out of the water; either you’re good or you’re not. All the game experience in the world won’t make you gooder.
Of the tackle to tackle guys mentioned Leno and Gerke are premier performers. This year they will likely be at the very top of their college game. Yet, their most important role will be to lift the performance of the others.
This is a young offensive line. Certainly they must have the physical qualities needed not to be pushed around, but without the concept of zone and team blocking they may as well be fire hydrants. This is where constant repetition of assignments must become second nature. It’s nice when an offensive lineman can drive a defensive opponent to the ground, but you only have to engage long enough to hold them at bay.
I’ve seen so-called great offensive lineman pancake a guy to the ground five out of ten times, but the other five times the defensive guy blows by him. A good offensive lineman will engage and lock on to his man on every play.
That has proved to be the success of Boise in the past. They simply play smarter. For sure, they hit hard, but they don’t over-power an opponent. Yet, Boise State is moving to a point in their development as a major program where they will attract the over-powering talent.
This may be Boise State’s best offensive line ever. They are intelligent and quick. They have good technique. They block the right man at the right time.
It’s not so important that they stand out individually, but rather they play as a coordinated front five.
Some of these linemen have a couple more years of eligibility. By the time their senior year rolls around they’ll be legends.