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Season Grades: Was OSU’s Offensive Line Worse in 2018 Than in Previous Seasons?

Handing out grades for those in the trenches.

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Phrases like “musical chairs” and “running for his life” aren’t sayings often associated with offensive lines, but Mike Gundy used them a lot to describe his this season.

It was another rocky season for the OSU hogmollies, but when a team that expects success is struggling, every mistake is magnified. Here are my season grades for the Pokes’ O-line with a bowl game to go.

Pass Blocking: C

The Cowboys have given up 32 sacks and 26 quarterback hurries entering their bowl game this season.

Those numbers are by no means ideal, but it wasn’t 2014 bad. Here’s a look at OSU’s sacks allowed across the past 10 seasons:

Year Sacks Allowed QB Hurries
2018 32 26
2017 24 27
2016 32 24
2015 32 29
2014 40 24
2013 14 26
2012 12 17
2011 12 14
2010 10 16
2009 11 18

You’ll notice the astronomical jump in sacks allowed from 2013 to 2014, which coincides with former offensive line coach Joe Wickline leaving for Texas. The Cowboys are still on the road to recovery in rebuilding the offensive line unit. Across the past 10 seasons, the Cowboys are giving up 21.9 sacks a season on average, but in the past five years, OSU is giving up 32. Meaning on a more micro scale, this season is the definition of average.

Run Blocking: B-

Having an elite pair of running backs makes run blocking much easier, but OSU’s offensive line was marginally better run blocking than pass blocking at times this season.

A stat I looked into to show OSU’s run-blocking ability is running backs’ yards lost. I combined OSU’s two leading running backs in the past 10 seasons and combined their negative rushes. Have a look:

Year Running Backs Yards Lost
2018 Justice Hill/Chuba Hubbard 66
2017 Justice Hill/J.D. King 90
2016 Justice Hill/Chris Carson 51
2015 Chris Carson/Raymond Taylor 48
2014 Desmond Roland/Tyreek Hill 68
2013 Desmond Roland/Jeremy Smith 76
2012 Joseph Randle/Jeremy Smith 57
2011 Joseph Randle/Jeremy Smith 52
2010 Kendall Hunter/Joseph Randle 57
2009 Keith Toston/Kendall Hunter 37

Justice Hill, Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown have each averaged more than five yards a carry this season. You could argue that’s more the backs than the linemen, but I’m not going to knock the line for having good running backs.

Overall: C+

This was by no means a good season for OSU’s offensive line, but it wasn’t a historically poor one like it looked like it might be at times 2018.

The group dealt with a ton of injuries as best as it could. Eight different Cowboys started on the O-line this season. This team won’t be remembered for OSU having a great offensive line, but it was more average than the Cowboys’ 6-6 record might indicate.

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