One of the great unknown elite match-ups of the 2013 season pitted the UCLA All-American and 9th pick in the NFL draft, Anthony Barr against Oregon’s Tyler Johnstone. As the game approached, I was worried about the protection of Marcus Mariota’s blindside, and yet I knew it would be quite entertaining to examine in slo-mo later.
Barr was picked early in the first round because of his amazing speed rush, while Tyler was known for his quick feet; who would prevail? We learn of not only the victor, but of some excellent pass rush and blocking fine points from the Grizzled Ol’ Coach as we watched the tape of two future pro football players go at it in Autzen Stadium.
The first obvious passing situation early in the game for Oregon (below) was with a 3rd-and-11, as you’ll see Barr to the left of Tyler Johnstone (UCLA No. 11) and he just gets a terrific first step off the line of scrimmage to beat Johnstone to the corner. Anthony doesn’t just get the sack, but creates a fumble that, fortunately, the Ducks recover.
Coach Mike Morris explained that as fast as the players Oregon has redshirting (for the scout team depicting the Bruin defense), none have the explosiveness with the first step as Barr. “That is impossible to replicate in practice,” says the Grizzled Ol’ Coach. “Tyler could not know how fast Barr is until you get into the game with game speed, and that is how Johnstone learned to adjust for the next play,” stated the Coach. You have to give credit where due as Barr is simply amazing, and after this play I was mumbling an “Uh-Oh” to myself, being concerned about Tyler getting eaten up by this extraordinary player for the Bruins.
Tyler got beat on that first speed rush, but was able to meet the Uclan at the corner and thwart speed rush attempts after that. We are about to see the next rush rushing weapon in Barr’s arsenal … the “Inside Spin.” Note how Marcus (Above) is just catching the center snap and Anthony has already crossed the line of scrimmage! Holy crap that is fast and Johnstone is in a tough spot as he is out there on an island and must stop Barr by himself.
We see how Tyler is letting Barr go where he wants — to the outside (above), while keeping him away from our QB. Oregon had a ton of confidence in Johnstone to allow him to block the UCLA star without additional help. Note how No. 64 is pushing on Barr’s inside shoulder, and the Coach explained how crucial that is to prevent the inside spin.
Sure enough, Barr (above) did spin inside, and due to the quick footwork, hips in place, and the block on the correct shoulder — Johnstone is able to stop the sack attempt and enable Marcus to throw for a big first down to Josh Huff.
This really is an All-American performance by Tyler Johnstone, No. 64 (above), on this play while out on an island by himself against one of the best pass rushers in the nation! Coach explained how Tyler drives with the right arm, the “post” move that Coach Daniel described last week. It takes quite a combination of technique, speed and athleticism to stop a great player like Barr.
On another play (above), we see Johnstone matched up with Barr, alone on the edge – and if he whiffs on the UCLA star? It is a straight line to the Oregon QB! Look at how Anthony is in the process of trying to whip Johnstone’s arms out of the way with his left arm, while simultaneously planting on his right foot to begin another inside move. It too, was stopped by the agile Duck!
This is a play that creates some air for an old offensive lineman such as myself (you know … hopping out of the chair?). We see Johnstone defend the inside route and let Barr slide outside, which makes me wonder if we didn’t scout the Red Zone assignments of Barr in advance, as Anthony took himself completely out of the play and Johnstone just guided him away! Do note the battle of Keanon Lowe (yellow circle) and the block by Hamani Stevens on Bruins star Myles Jack (red arrow above) when you watch the GIF below.
This is run-blocking, baby! Johnstone takes Barr out of the play, Stevens knocks Jack into a complete somersault, and the battle by Keanon Lowe on the perimeter makes you want to stand up to cheer and shout at the monitor. Look how long he sustains the block and then gets a piece of the safety and all Marshall had to do was … run! My friends, this is why Oregon does a lot of winning; it is not glamorous, and most do not notice, but the Duck run blocking is truly a blessing to watch for the “Next-Level” Oregon fan who comes to this site.
It should be noted that Barr got his licks in besides causing that fumble early in the game. First, he got a holding call on Johnstone that stopped a drive early in the game (which is the same impact as a sack) — and he recovered a fumble later from a muffed center snap (I don’t fault Tyler, as he did not know what was going on behind him).
Overall … the threat of this fleet UCLA defender was negated by Johnstone, and the All-American was not a factor from late third quarter onward, as the conditioning of No. 64 owned him. While not listed on the pre-season awards watch lists, Oregon’s Tyler Johnstone will be a candidate for post-season honors, as he protects the blindside of the most valuable quarterback of college football for the 2014 campaign.
“Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”
Oregon Football Analyst for EugeneDailyNews/FishDuck.com
(Top Photo from Video, and a special thanks for the expertise and patience of Coach Mike Morris)