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Maybe We Should Have Seen This Coming



To help set the mood, please skip to the 42 second mark.


You hear about the offensive line in the most general of terms on television, the WSJ sent the blogosphere nuts when they got all numbery in their description of its importance, and Michael Lewis sold who knows how many books explaining to us that left guards are now bringing in paychecks second only in size to quarterbacks.

Everyone is trying to understand the position, but no one has figured out a good way to do it.  But we might have missed a sign, and we probably should have been more suspect of a Penn State line that lost three strong performers, switched the starters they kept to new positions, and besides wasn't turning in the numbers:

Year Games Carries Yards YPC
2008 Non-B10 87 671 7.71
2008 B10 193 1052 5.45
2009 Non-B10 66 291 4.41
2009 B10 20 84 4.20


[I only included Royster and Green in the chart above in an attempt to keep garbage data out of the picture.]


Now we didn't have that final line of data last week, but we didn't really need it, and besides it only helps prove the point: the offensive line has taken a very big step back.

I was concerned about the offensive line, I mean we were all concerned, but I rationalized it away with the following ridiculous points:

  • The embarrassing opponents we faced during the first three weeks were somehow playing an unfair defense we were too stubborn to adapt to.  Joe even helped me out here:

    "I think we had the ball 67 times. And I think all but maybe eight or nine times they blitzed. So when you're facing that, we try to be stubborn and try to run the ball because I think we need the work."

  • The three players we lost weren't exactly NFL blockbusters:  Ohrnberger was picked 123rd overall (4th round) and Shipley went 226th (7th round).  Cadogan wasn't even drafted.
  • In maybe my most impressive display of irrational justification to date, people with lots of time and very good distribution deals would kinda ranked the Big Ten offensive lines (or so I figured) in this order:
Team Points Players
Penn State 10 3
Iowa 7 2
Wisconsin 7 3
Ohio State 6 2
Michigan State 5 2


Maybe he (or it is I?) got some of those right, but not the one we were hoping for.

I think the lesson here, if we even feel like learning one, is that the offensive line is not in any way the sum of its parts.  That and I still hate Iowa.