Trench Warfare: OSU Edition

Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

Grading the performance of the Baylor offensive line in the loss last week to Oklahoma State.

Ugh...It took me a while to muster the strength to rewatch this game.  I was in a funk for three days after the loss to OSU and some of the feeling still lingers.  But I have a job to do and that is to grade out the offensive line's performance in Baylor first loss of the season.  So let's get this started.

How This Works

I only graded the starting offensive lineman, but I did grade the TE's as a group. I graded on a Pass/Fail system based each how well each lineman played on every down. On run plays I looked for: (1) did the lineman block anybody on the play? (2) did the lineman get a solid contact on the defender and drive them back or seal them from the play? (3) did they sustain their blocks to the end of the play? On pass plays I looked for: (1) did the lineman block someone? (2) did they get solid contact and maintained the pocket? (3) did they sustain their block?

If they passed all three criteria they got a score of "1," if not then they received a "0." Penalty plays were not counted as full plays and instead the lineman who caused the loss of yards was handicapped for the next play. This means that if they were make a good block on the ensuing play the best score they could get was a "0." If they failed to make a block on the next play they would receive a "-1."

The Results:

PLAY COLBERT CYRIL HUBER HILLIARD PALMER TE GAIN
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 8
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 6
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 9
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 5
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 2
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 -5
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC PUNT
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 6
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 5
PASS 0 1 1 1 1 1 7
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 27
RUN 1 1 0 0 1 0 0
RUN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 FUMBLE
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 0
PASS 0 0 1 1 1 -1 PENALTY, SACK, PUNT
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
RUN 0 0 1 1 0 1 1
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC DEF PENALTY
RUN 0 0 0 0 1 -3 PUNT
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 10
PASS 0 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 4
PASS 0 1 1 1 1 6
PASS 1 0 1 1 1 13
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 4
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC PUNT
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 0
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 0 0 0 0 1 -11 SACK, PUNT
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 48
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 10
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 0 1 1 1 8 FG
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 20
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC DEF PENALTY
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 5
RUN 1 1 1 0 1 0 0
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 TO ON DOWNS
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 14
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC
RUN 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 FUMBLE
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 9
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 0 1 1 1 1 8
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 0 -7 SACK
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 6
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC TO ON DOWNS
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 26
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 0 1 1 1 1 10
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 0 PENALTY ON WR
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 8 TO ON DOWNS
RUN 1 0 1 1 1 1 5
RUN 1 1 0 1 1 1 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 12
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
PASS 1 1 0 1 1 1 INC
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 20
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 24 TD
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC DEF PENALTY
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 14
RUN 1 1 0 1 1 1 -3
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 19
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 2
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 3
? 0 FUMBLE
SCORE 70 71 73 75 77 35
TOT PLAYS 80 80 81 80 80 40
% 88% 89% 90% 94% 96% 88% 91%
PASS BLOCK ERRORS 7 3 2 1 1 0 14
RUN BLOCK ERRORS 3 5 6 4 2 5 25
PENALTIES 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
PASS PLAY ERRORS 11
RUN PLAY ERRORS 11

There was reason for concern early last week when we learned that Spencer Drango would undergo back surgery and be out for a period of time.  After some speculation on how Baylor would move forward with the loss it was announced that sophomore Pat Colbert would get the start at left tackle.  Known for being a mauler in the run game with questionable pass blocking ability, Colbert got the start over last year's starter at right tackle, Troy Baker.  Baker has been rehabbing a left knee injury since spring ball but has played in garbage time in almost every game this season.

Colbert was given the opportunity to earn the start in practice last week in an apparent attempt to do as little shuffling along the line as possible.  If Baker were to start he would taken over the right tackle spot with Kevin Palmer moving from RT to LT, forcing new starters at two positions instead of one.  Why couldn't Baker play the LT spot? Well, because of the injury to his left knee.

When you play offensive line, how you position your feet is dependant on which side of the ball you play on.  A left guard and tackle's left leg is their anchor leg in pass protection, keeping their right foot forward and their left foot back so defenders are forced to go around the pocket instead of through it (and vice versa for right guard/right tackles).  The anchor leg is what takes the brunt of the force when pass blocking a defender, and thus, the most stress.  Since Baker's injury was to his left knee, playing him at LT might have been (potentially) too stressful for his knee to bear.

So Colbert got the start and lived up to his billing: solid run blocker, so-so pass blocker.  The man was a beast in the run game.  He tried to take his defender for a ride downfield on almost every run play, making solid contact and churning his feet to good effect.  His pass protection needs a lot of work, as evident in this play:

To start, Colbert's kick-steps needs to be quicker.  By the time Colbert is done with his first, Palmer has almost finished his second.  A kick-step is a technique used by tackles in pass protection to quickly move back and out to cut off defenders in space.  A slow kick-step means that Colbert won't be able to get into proper position in time, forcing him to open his hips too soon and allowing a better angle toward the QB.  Colbert could have salvaged the play if he had made solid contact with the defender but he missed and threw himself off balance.  All the DE had to do was swipe away Colbert's hands to continue unabated and sack Bryce Petty.

This was a common sight as Colbert struggled with the speedy OSU defensive ends.  Colbert is the fist lineman this year to have twice as many pass block errors than run block errors.  If Colbert is to keep the LT spot, he will need to work on his footwork and speed.  A move to the inside at guard will probably be his best bet if he wants to start next year.  There his pass block deficiencies will be lessened but still be able to plow defenders in the run game.

DRANGO CYRIL HUBER HILLIARD PALMER TE COLBERT AVERAGE
WOFFORD 91% 85% 89% 87% 87% 88%
BUFFALO 89% 91% 91% 86% 97% 91%
ULM 93% 89% 86% 89% 84% 88%
WVU 96% 88% 96% 90% 93% 92%
KSU 89% 93% 86% 86% 84% 88%
ISU 94% 97% 91% 95% 97% 93% 94%
KU 91% 91% 93% 89% 93% 88% 91%
OU 94% 93% 95% 87% 92% 84% 91%
TTU 95% 95% 97% 94% 87% 87% 93%
OSU 89% 90% 94% 96% 88% 88% 91%
TOTAL AVERAGE 92% 91% 91% 90% 91% 88% 88% 90%

Despite the final score, the offensive line played decently grading out to 91% as a unit.  They started out strong, making no errors in the first ten plays, but after that, sixteen errors in the next twelve.  Those drives ended: turnover by fumble, punt and punt with a false start penalty and a sack thrown in as well.

The problem was, despite playing well overall, the blocking errors happened in bunches and on key downs (3rd down, 2nd and long, etc.) killing promising drives.  Two of the three sacks surrendered happened on 3rd downs.  A bad snap in the redzone lead to a turnover and a defensive touchdown.  Missed blocks on 4th down attempts.  On a night where they needed to have their best game, the line came up short.

Whelp, licking wounds time is over.  Let's go get some frog legs for dinner. Sic 'Em Bears!

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