Most of the buzz from the 2015 Oregon Spring Game centered around the superb performances of quarterback Jeff Lockie and Uber-dude, Charles Nelson – and rightly so. Typically, at FishDuck.com, we like to analyze the areas that most analysts do not examine, and I found some amazing performances buried in the trenches by none other than the “Pre-Freshmen” enrolled at Oregon early on — and a redshirt freshman we have not seen in game action yet.
Now, technically speaking, if they are attending classes at Oregon, they are freshmen — just not the usual type. They are young men who should be seniors in high school, yet they are standing out in Oregon’s Spring Game – thus I needed a way to distinguish them from the true redshirt freshmen. It was great fun, and very exciting to get a glimpse of the future for Oregon football.
Zach Okun is one of the high school seniors who came to Oregon early but does not fit the Oregon prototype on the offensive line. Because he is massive, mobility might be an issue for awhile, but his raw power blocking is demonstrated in this example. The image above shows the beginning of a play, so that you can see where he is located — he wears the No. 75 gold jersey.
Okun has driven his target-man back and the hand fighting that goes on by the offensive and defensive linemen has the advantage going to Okun thus far. (See the yellow arrow above)
Okun now has leverage and is turning his powerful torso into the defender and driving him away from the play to create the hole for the running back to run through. (See the yellow circle above.)
Okun — in the gif image above — delivers the earth-moving power that coach Greatwood saw on film. The previous No. 75, — Jake Fisher – would be proud of this young man’s drive blocking!
This was my first opportunity to watch many of the freshmen who redshirted last fall, and I was impressed with the dramatic progress of Branden Eggert in pass-blocking. (See the yellow arrow above)
Across from Eggert in this passing situation is veteran defensive end, T.J. Daniels, who quickly passed the block attempt by Eggert on a strong inside move and is targeting the QB. (See the yellow circle above)
We have a fuzzy screenshot from the cameras, but we are grateful to have these available, regardless. Eggert kept moving his feet to better position himself, so he could ultimately push Daniels away from the QB — indicated by the yellow arrow above. What made it easier was when “pre-freshman,” Travis Jonsen, stepped up in the pocket and delivered the pass down field.
This is excellent intuition by the young offensive guard to follow the instructions of coach Greatwood and apply the “take-them-where-they-want-to-go” philosophy used in zone run blocking and apply it to pass blocking. (Shown above.)
Early in the game, we were treated to a match-up of the redshirt freshman, Branden Eggert — shown by the yellow arrow above — and the massive “pre-freshman,” Canton Kaumatule — shown by the green arrow above — in a running play.
Remember the SODA — Strike, Observe, Discard, and Attack — technique of defensive linemen? Initially, Eggert got the first blows in, but then Kaumatule struck back hard into the shoulders of Branden — you can see Kaumatule employed the second phase, observe — as he is checking the inside gap he is responsible for. (See the yellow circle above)
Canton saw that Thomas Tyner was taking an outside gap, thus he is exploding across the face of the offensive guard to discard him, where he is milliseconds away from attacking the ball carrier — see the green arrow above.
I took a moment to point out the superb work of Christian French – see the orange arrow above — on this play as well. He, too, had an excellent game, as he fought off his blocker to make a great play.
This is so good a technique from a “pre-freshman” — as seen above? It appeared that the technique flowed almost naturally from this young man. And then add his power and physique to it all — all I can say is, wow!
We have the beginnings of some tremendous competitions taking place in practice, as I see Okun — see the yellow arrow above — lined up across from Kaumatule — see the green arrow above — at the beginning of an obvious pass play. I couldn’t wait to see this power-vs-technique match-up!
Okun is at a disadvantage as he cannot use his power in a pass-blocking down. Kaumatule approached Okun and batted at his right arm while pulling his own right arm around and moving past Okun. It is not a real swim move, but simply a slap to clear the hands of the offensive guard.
It is enough, however, that the hand slap and Kaumatule’s speed made the QB throw the ball away. The grizzled ol’ coach explained that Okun did not get his head between Kaumatule and the QB, thus it allowed Kaumatule to use his speed to get past him.
Coach Mike Morris went on to explain that despite the technique and speed we have noted from the former 5-star recruit, Kaumatule’s major attribute, might be his gracefulness in movement. “He does not move like a man weighing 290 pounds, but as one who is much lighter.” An interesting observation.
My friends, it seems that we continue to have events that occur for the first time to this football program, such as having five “pre-freshmen” participate in spring football this year — all of which appear to be very talented, and while we do not get to see the practices, you can imagine the power-vs-technique showdowns that will take place over the next three-to-four years between these young guns.
They have just begun – can you imagine how far they will progress?
Can you say, “multiple first-round NFL Draft linemen?”
Oh, how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!
Oregon Football Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
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