Trench Report: Stanford

WEEK 1:  Weber State
Top Grade Average: 2.95, Isaac Seumalo
Team Grade Average: 3.03

WEEK 2.  Michigan
Top Grade Average: 2.84, Josh Mitchell
Team Grade Average: 2.97

WEEK 3.  San Jose State
Top Grade Average: 2.78, Isaac Seumlo
Team Grade Average: 2.86

WEEK 4.  Stanford
Top Grade Average: 2.89 Isaac Seumlo
Team Grade Average: 2.92

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Week overview:
In recent years, games against Stanford have been tough for the five men up front. Our offensive line has been asked to zone block the best front seven in the conference, and usually with limited success. In the last two years, we have rushed for 17 (2013) and 12 (2014) yards in the whole game against Stanford. Much of the damage was due to 16 sacks in those two games for -111 yards.

Last week, in back and forth battle, against Stanford, the Beavers were able to do something they haven’t done in years: Rush for 100 yards against Stanford.

The Beavers gained 111 rushing yards, and only gave up one sack. Now while Stanford was kind of thin, missing a key starter in Kevin Anderson, it was still the Beavers’ best effort against the Cardinal in a long time. It also was an example of how far they have come this season.

I read a lot of people maligning Oregon State’s offensive line.  While I don’t know everything, I do feel like I have a pretty decent grasp on aspects of offensive line play. One of the big ones is no matter what happens, if a play fails, you will be blamed. Even if all five linemen are blocking great, a tight end could miss his block, a running back could miss his block, a runner could hit the wrong hole or cut into traffic instead of trusting his blockers.

A good example of this would be the second play of the game against Stanford. Below is a link to the play. I have paused it at various points so you can see the progression of the play.

Trench Report: Bad Cut

The first part of the play shows the line locking onto their defenders with Fred Lauina (64) and Josh Mitchell (50) doubling on the defensive tackle in front of them. When Storm Barrs-Woods gets the ball, Mitchell and Lauina are driving their guy toward the sideline and Isaac Seumalo (56) and Dustin Stanton (74) are working on their tackle. So you have four on two at the point of the hand off. You also have Kellen Clute (83) running up to block the inside backer.

Mitchell comes off his double with Lauina and picks up the other backer.  at the point that Barrs-Woods has to decide where to go. All of his blockers have created a lane up the middle, blocking the front five defenders (with Sean Harlow, No. 77, isolating his defender as well).  Unfortunately, Barrs-Woods cuts outside. At this point he is on his own because there is a defensive end in space behind him, and all of the defenders on the right side of the line who are blocking are actually being blocked towards him. There is also a safety or linebacker coming up outside. Because of the drive up the middle and the combo block by Stanton and Seumalo, Storm used their push and his own hard running to get three yards. But had he trusted his blocking, he had five blockers working on five defenders and could have had a much bigger gain.

So you don’t think I am throwing Storm Barrs-Woods under the bus, below is a play where he does the right thing. He cuts back behind the butt of the blocker and gets a big gain:

Trench Report: Good Cut

Trench Report: Good Cut (Second Angle)

If you watch this, he reads the direction of his blocks while Lauina, Mitchell, and Seumalo push their defenders out of the way. While OSU does drive Stanford back a lot this game, the big key to the game is that they push them out of the way, sometimes horizontally, and it opens these lanes in traffic. Once Storm gets free, he carries two Stanford defenders for a few more yards and turns a short yardage play into a double-digit gain.

Both of these plays were blocked very well, the difference was the back trusting his blockers.

What the Heck?
This was a well blocked game. There were struggles in other areas, but players such as Lauina and Harlow really made huge strides. From guard to guard, OSU has been stout for a few weeks, but I felt like this game the tackles took a big step forward.

So with that, my “What the Heck” moment is for the  bane of all offensive linemen’s existence.


Late in the game, when OSU was trying to catch up, Seth Collins had an amazing run to put the Beavers in scoring position with a chance to trim the lead to two scores. While still a long shot, the Beavers never quit. Unfortunately, two defenders basically jump on Josh Mitchell and bring him to the ground. This for some unknown reason causes the officials to decide it was holding.  Not only was it not holding, it also had no bearing on the play as Seth was running away at that point and those guys had no chance at catching him.

Fortunately for the Beavers, they got their revenge on the next play, as they repeatedly drove the Stanford defender into the ground.  Unfortunately for the Beavers, that was a bitter sweet victory because they did not score and lost the game. It did make a fun video clip to watch though.

Holding sucks. It is a judgement call by the refs and while it could be called every play, it isn’t.  When it is called, it is usually overturning a great effort by the ball carriers. So boo phantom holds… unless they help the Beavers!

C’mon, you all know I am no objective on these things…

Go Beavs (PRO)

5 thoughts on “Trench Report: Stanford

  1. Building the Dam (@BuildingTheDam)

    Agenda “holding” calls where there was no holding, and may or may not have featured another illegal, penalizable action that when called gets mis-identified, by term or signal, is a widespread frustration I share with you; they often fall under the heading of “it doesn’t look normal so it must be illegal” interpretation, which is lazy, unprofessional officiating. Players must adapt to the general way the game is being called, and the specific game as well, but inconsistency makes that very hard to do.

    Good job of analysis of what is and is not going on.Oregon State needs to get better overall line play and production out of it, but there are a lot of factors that go into it. Your series is pointing out that its not as simple as a “good job”/”bad job” assessment.

    1. Peter Riley Osborne Post author

      I agree wholeheartedly. My opinion with holding is that if it effects the play call it. If not, let it go, unless what you see is egregious. Of course in most cases, egregious holding is more like illegal use of hands to the face or tackling.

      I really think that the Beavers are getting better each week. There is only one front seven left that is in Stanford and Michigan’s caliber and that is Utah. UCLA is pretty good, but the loss of Jack really hurts them. I think just like against SJSU, we will see improvement because of experience but also improvement just because we are going to be a better physical and scheme match for most of the teams left on our schedule.

      Will be fun to see how it plays out. I would love for them to get a 2.5 team ranking against the ducks because that would mean A) we won and B) my grading is skewed by excitement over the win because a 2.5 grade is REALLY difficult.

  2. eviltwinnick

    I’m so confused with what is or isn’t holding. It began with how hole WRs blocked by grabbing the outside of the shoulders and not letting the DBs to turn and pursue. Stanford’s tackles did the same to our DEs. I thought the OL hands had to stay inside the shoulders.

    If how Stanford blocks is acceptable, then I hope we are doing the same.

  3. nancy osborne

    thanks for the report! Go beavers, looking better each week! Glad we got a little more practice after Stanford!

  4. blowcheese

    Blowcheese here:

    On TV it “looked” like the line had creased Stanford a few times and the back hesitated or made the wrong read or mistimed it and hit the back of the lineman before the lineman had made his full step. Its expected these guys will be out of synch with a new blocking scheme, less time to line themselves up etc. But then i see Nall on that one series line up and head right into the hole 3 or 4 straight times and the blocking “looks” much more effective. Why is that? Is it the style of the ballcarrier? Maybe we need more guys like Nall who go straight ahead. Woods and Brown and Sands are shifty side steppers. This is oversimplifying it but I really think the problem is more with the backs.
    On a side note its weird to see Terron Ward be an NFL guy . Proud of him but how much did the offense underachieve these last few years with NFL qbs, Running backs and Recievers. just wow.


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