Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Knives vs Guns in the trenches

If Tyler will allow me to pile on for a moment.

I agree, the offensive line should be improved in 2012. As much as I'll miss the guys we lost, Coach Friend's unit will be better equipped to succeed this season. As TD pointed out, the protection was slim and the running lanes were next to nil last season. And not all of that is the offensive line's fault. We had a fullback position that was under-utilized and a tight end position that wasn't able to contribute much blocking wise.

Bruce Figgins is one of my favorites to wear the red and black. I was thrilled to learn last year that he would be moving to fullback because it would allow him to be on the field with Orson, Aron or both and would put a good set of hands out of the backfield. However the result, was Figgins only caught 7 passes for 96 yards and 1 touchdown. What's more is he never carried the ball. Never. His counterpart Zander only carried it twice.

I listened to Richt's reasoning on this (previously unforeseen) development numerous times via the call-in show. Historically, Figgins had never taken a handoff. They weren't planning to (ever) allow him to carry the football. This narrows your offensive weapons and minimizes your choices. Even if it's only somewhat minimized, it still allows the defense to eliminate an option out of the backfield with zero risk of getting burned.

The tight end position did the same thing, albeit from a different direction. Aron White and Orson Charles were terrific targets for Murray. They combined for 54 catches, 675 yards and 9 touchdowns. Of course, Orson did most of the heavy lifting with those stats, but White was a frequent target in the red zone with nearly half of those touchdowns.

The problem is blocking. With all the speed and elusiveness we had at the TE position last season, we didn't have a competent blocker at the position. This, combined with the stripped down version of the fullback position, severely handicapped our protection and blocking schemes.

Enter Artie Lynch and Quayvon Hicks. Lynch has the size of a bonus offensive tackle (6-5, 270+). Hicks dwarfs our current options at fullback (let's face it, Samuel is not a fullback) and has experience taking handoffs. If he can catch up quick this summer he should be starting sooner rather than later. And Lynch, if he can sit in a zone and catch seam route in addition to his blocking duties, we're two steps ahead of where we were last season. Both in terms of protection and options within the playbook.

Of course there are things to iron out along the offensive line, much that only experience and starts can bring along. But I'll be watching Hicks' development closely this August. And come September 1st, I'll be watching the number of times Bobo and Murray call Lynch's number on passing downs as closely as anything else. If those two offensive components can come together, we'll no longer be bringing switchblades to gunfights.

statistics taken from cfbstats.com


Bernie said...

Great thinking there, the o-line will be soo much better now that we got rid of those 4 lineman who got drafted by the NFL, and have 30 game sof experience combined, among the bottom 12 in the NCAA in game experience. Oh yes, this o-line should be the bomb.

Bernie said...

You either missed the whole point of the post or slept through the entire 2011 season. Perhaps both. Lemme recap.

Good talent along the line last year that was at a distinct disadvantage because we had a FB that didn't carry the ball and TE that couldn't block. NFL still sees the value in the linemen, drafts them despite poor 2011 results. Whew! Hopefully this season the addition of some size at both FB and TE positions will produce better results.

You're welcome.

Bernie said...

Well, at least we'll get to see a center, two guards and two tackles on the offensive line this year opposed to the five guards that lined up last year. That's improvement in itself.

Bernie said...

How many games has the offensive line started as a combined unit--is it 31? And how many games of starting experience do Hicks or Lynch have-is it 0? Any way to validate your expectations based on playing time with either the offensive line or the fullback or tight end, or are you just sharing your opinion based on what you feel is their potential?

Bernie said...

June, potential. As I stated, we'll hopefully have some validation in August and certainly by September. I hope.

Bernie said...

The first real game of contact isn't until September, so nope, your opinion won't be validated in August. And then you have a bunch of unranked cupcakes in September like Buffalo, no tests there either. Nope, you won't know how good this offensive line, who lost 4 guys to the NFL, and was left with an NCAA bottom 12 worst 31 starts of exeperience, including the 5 offensive linemen, new fullback and new tight end. October 6 is the date to circle, when Spurrier's defensive line tests the 3 rookie offensive linemen, and the rookie tight end, and the rookie fullback. Clowney is looking at 5 sacks and a 3 touchdown victory.

Bernie said...

Aha! I shoulda known you were a lamechicken! Shame on me.

Bernie said...

Bernie, no, because I disagreed with all your points doesn't mean I am a SC fan, I'm not. I support the Bulldogs, but disagree with your article here that everything's fine, no work to do, and that since we lost 4 linemen to the NFL, we will be better there next year. I'd like to see you use your voice to help the team improve, instead of lull them into sleep with overzealous articles. If you disagree with me, you must be a Gator fan...ha.

Bernie said...

Oh, my apologies for the unwarranted insult.

Again, the point was to point out some reason for hope. Not to pump sunshine. But with all due respect that is what June is about. If you want substantiated facts about the upcoming season, my advice is to not read blogs in the off season. It's kinda a time for what could be, what might happen.