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Dallas Griffin

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I don't want to make this a post about how much such and such sucks. Dallas Griffin is an asset to our team regardless of how well he plays (read: won't pistol whip a fool for disrespecting his shoes), so I don't hold him in low esteem at all. In fact, I go into this having no idea how well he played vs. UCF. I noticed, as I was scrolling though our run plays here (yes, I know the play descriptions look like they were written by a lawyer who doesn't know a football from a farm animal . . . wait. But the video contribution is still significant. Half props to him), that Dallas Griffin was the failure point of a number of plays towards the end of the game. So I'm going back through each of our runs and digging up some numbers.

My first part is about how well Griffin fared with a DT responsibility vs. a second level responsibility. What do I mean?

We'll call it uncovered vs. covered. When a lineman is covered, it means he has a defensive lineman lined up in front of him. When he is uncovered, he doesn't. In this case it's not tremendously important where the defense lines up, but it does matter who Griffin tries to block. If he tries to slip to a LB on the second level:

Or double team a DT:

I'm considering him uncovered. If he tries to take on a DT on his own:

I'm considering him covered.

Note - I am not counting short yardage plays, and counters, etc. This is strictly zone handoffs.

  • Uncovered Zone (Good) - 9
  • Uncovered Zone (Bad) - 3
  • Covered Zone (Good) - 4
  • Covered Zone (Bad) - 7

What does that mean? Well, for one, it means we ran the same (or similar) play 23 times. Yuck. Aside from that though, when Griffin tried to block a DT on his own, he did a bad job 7 out of 11 times. When he tried to block a LB or had double team help, he succeeded 9 out of 12 times. Some of this is tricky. For instance, on Charles' late, game sealing TD, Griffin got driven backwards as he tried to make his block. I counted that as a bad block, even though technically his man didn't make the play, or effect it in any meaningful way. Had the hole not been there, the DT would've likely made a play. It's a judgment call.

UCF started covering Griffin on the last play of the 1st quarter, after several good second level and double team blocks. That's when our trouble started with the zone plays. As noted, Griffin had a lot of trouble with the one on one blocks, but thrived in space. Naturally, UCF stopped giving him space. Griffin had a few great blocks while pulling for counters, which again had him in space.

So what does this mean for us going forward? We need to be creative and very careful (. . . gulp). We need to make sure that Griffin avoids one on one blocking at all costs. Even when he wins he ends up two yards deep in our own backfield. If the opponent lines up a tackle directly across from him, as I'm guessing OU will, we need to make sure a guard is coming to help, and freeing Griffin to run after a LB. Or, worst comes to worst, double team the DT backwards into the LB's path and let Jamaal pick his way around him.

Second, we need to pull him more. We need to take a page out of the Indianapolis Colts playbook and pull Griffin on zone plays:

This gives us two advantages. One, it eases the strain on the OL to make difficult zone reach blocks (i.e. Griffin chasing a faster MLB to the right), and two, getting our most agile OL outside in space where he has freedom to exercise his strengths as a blocker.

We have a situation in which we are misusing a player with some strengths. He's not Lyle Sendlein. He can't dominate tackles one on one. We need to make some changes to allow him to succeed, or get someone in there who can thrive in the system we have.

I'm guessing neither will happen, and just like last year with the trick plays and playaction, more and more teams will catch on to our weakness and exploit it.