Watching Wisconsin last night, I was floored (pancaked, if you will) by the dominant play of their offensive line. Before the snap, their advantage was obvious -- they towered over the smaller, skinnier UNLV defense. And as soon as Wilson took the ball, there were holes you could've driven a [insert large vehicle] through for their backs to explode through.
Which, of course, they did.
FSU's line has been under the tutelage of Rick Trickett for years, and there has been obvious growth in terms of footwork, flexibility, decision-making, etc.
But I'm looking for another kind of growth.
This is year two of the Vic Viloria Era, the Jimbo Fisher "Grown Ass Men" era. Watching Wisconsin it was so obvious to me that he's right: games are won and lost up front. Despite some major losses on the o-line (Hudson, McMahon) we still have some veteran beasts (Datko, Sanders) and, as far as I can tell, everyone (them included) has grown physically.
They're becoming Grown Ass Men. And I'm wondering if tomorrow, and throughout the year, we'll see the rewards of this. Do we expect our line to bully defenses more this year than last, and open up wider holes for our stable of running backs to run through? Extended protection for EJ Manuel to run through his progression, or take off and pick up an extra thirty yards?
I'm also curious what we'll see out of our rotation of monsters at defensive tackle, and our big boys coming off the end. I guess I've never really paid attention to the Xs and Os of football before, in particular the essential value of success up front.
But last night, the entire defensive burden was placed on UNLV's linebackers and, more often than not, secondary. Because their d-line was getting swallowed on every snap. I mean, you couldn't even see them anymore. Nothing but red jerseys and huge chunks of vacant field.
Obviously this kind of mismatch is not the norm. But in years past, FSU has struggled up front in these kinds of games.
We know Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner are monsters. We know our tackle rotation is almost embarrassing to talk about. But will this translate on the field? Are we going to be suffocating offenses, stuffing runs in the backfield, getting more than just coverage sacks?
Are we going to intimidate up front again?
I'm curious to see what kind of leap we make on our respective lines in year 2 under Jimbo. Against a far inferior opponent like UL-M, I think we will get some indication.
And I'm hoping it isn't unlike what I saw last night from Wisconsin.