Pro Football Focus’ offensive line stats reveal the Trojans’ offensive line deficiencies, while Jack Jones made his plea. Here’s the USC football roundup for July 16.
USC football’s biggest offseason storyline has focused firmly on the quarterback battle, but the state of the offensive line going into 2018 is arguably the biggest question mark the Trojans face.
After all, put a great quarterback behind a mediocre offensive line and he’s still likely to struggle (ex. Sam Darnold). Put an unseasoned quarterback behind a mediocre offensive line and you’ll have even bigger trouble.
That’s why the 2017 offensive line stats released by Pro Football Focus, as compiled by USCFootball.com’s Chris Trevino, should be of particular interest to Trojan fans.
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To put it simply, USC’s offensive line left a lot to be desired last year.
Of the five returning lineman who were eligible for stats, only Chuma Edoga ranked in the Top 30 at his position. Edoga sat sixth among tackles. Clayton Johnston was 35th. Toa Lobendahn ranked 165th. At guard, Chris Brown was 209th and Andrew Vorhees was 351st.
With the exception of Edoga, that’s not the kind of level that’ll keep an offense in the upper echelon of college football. (Edoga’s rating is almost good enough to forgive his 13 penalties on the year.)
The complete list of stats is worth perusing, but the most telling looking ahead to 2018 has to do with run blocking. PFF measures Impact Run Blocks and Defeated Run Blocks. They’re just like they sound: Impact equals a positive grade and defeated equals a negative one.
Edoga received a positive run grade on 12.8 percent of players. He had a negative grade on 12.2 percent of plays. On the one hand, that’s above the national average of 7.7 percent positive for tackles. On the other hand, that’s below the national average of 10 percent for negatives.
The numbers demonstrate the feast or famine nature of USC’s offensive line. And Edoga was the most consistent in those numbers. He’s the only one with a better Impact grade than Defeated.
Lobendahn and Johnston had a lower positive percentage and a higher negative one than Edoga.
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Guards Chris Brown and Andrew Vorhees were similarly inconsistent. Brown’s 14.3 percent positive rating is exceptional. His 18.1 percent negative rate is downright terrible. Vorhees was even more drastic with 11.9 percent positive and 19.5 percent negative.
Think about that for a second. USC’s returning guards were “defeated” in run blocking nearly 20 percent of the time.
In 2017, it was very much “one step forward, two steps back” for the Trojan offensive line. That has to change.
Jack Jones pleads not guilty
Former Trojan cornerback Jack Jones pled not guilty to felony counts of commercial burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime on Monday, per the OC Register.
Regardless of what happens with Jones’ legal issues, the cornerback had already left USC due to academic ineligibility. He had planned to enroll in a junior college and sort out his future from there. That future may not have been in cardinal and gold.
Top tight ends
College Football News ranked the Top 30 tight ends in the country and USC senior Tyler Petite earned a mention at No. 15.
There was no room in the Top 30 for Daniel Imatorbhebhe, who will be looking to rediscover his electric form from 2016 before injury hampered his 2017 campaign.
Trojan receivers snubbed?
CFN also ranked the Top 30 wide receivers in the nation, but there was no mention of any Trojans. Is that a snub for Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman?
Pittman’s potential outshone his actual production in 2017, so it’s understandable to see him unmentioned for the time being.
However, if Ohio State’s Parris Campbell, Oklahoma State’s Jalen McCleskey, Miami’s Ahmmon Richards and a handful of others who produced less than Vaughns last year can make the cut, then it feels like a pretty big oversight, or snub, for the gifted wideout in cardinal and gold.
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Today’s Trojan Trivia
USC has put 12 offensive linemen in the College Football Hall of Fame.