I wanted to take the time to break down the video that was recently posted of the Oklahoma drill, and really get down into the nitty gritty of the battles and what it says about the players involved.
For those of you who aren't familiar with line technique or the Oklahoma drill in particular, it's really more about the battle between the blocker and tackler. The back might do something special if his blocker loses, but more times than not, Landry Jones would win with Davin Joseph and Adrian Peterson would lose against Tommy Harris.
On the technique side, the blocker's goal is to get under the defender, grab him firmly on both sides, and stand him up straight. Once you're under him and got him locked up, he can't do much but stand there.
The rusher is trying to do a lot of the same stuff. If you can get under the blocker, you won't get pushed off the ball. If you can use your hands to keep him from locking you up, you can just throw him to the side to shed the block. If you can't get under him but can keep him from getting under you, you can essentially sidestep, use his momentum against him, and throw him aside (Montgomery demonstrates this technique P.L. Lindley around the 43 second mark)... and if the offensive lineman gets too low, you can just push him on his face.
All of that out of the way, we'll break down all of the individual battles in the video...Battle 1 - #80 (DT Jordan Phillips) vs #56 (C Ty Darlington)
You'd expect Phillips to dominate this match-up because he's 30 pounds heavier.
Phillips manages to get under Darlington and stand him up, but he doesn't use his hands well to keep Darlington from locking him up. From there, Darlington goes too low and gets thrown to the ground, but Phillips is off balance and falls to.
Pretty much a tie, but given that Phillips should have won this easily, it's really a win for Darlington. The takeaway here is that Darlington is a absolutely a stud, and Phillips pad level is good, but he needs a lot of work on his hand technique.Battle 2 - #29 (DE Rashod Favors) vs ??? (Looks like #52, John-Philip Hughes)
About the same size, so this should be a draw.
Hughes lets Favors get under him, push him back, and just barely manages to keep hold of his jersey sleeves. Favors more or less controls Hughes the entire time, but he can't quite shed him.
Hughes needs to work on getting his pad level down, but there's a lot of good fight in him.
Favors wins, pretty handily.Battle 3 - #49 (DE David Driskill) vs #82 (TE Brannon Greene)
Greene has 20 pounds on Driskill, who I assume is a walk-on, so you'd expect Greene to dominate.
Greene gets under his Driskill, locks him up, drives him back, and turns him away from the play. Absolutely made Driskill look like a tackling dummy on that one.
Greene dominates as he should, shows absolute perfect blocking technique... not sure if you can learn anything given the circumstances, but Greene's technique was absolutely textbook.Battle 4 - #67 (OG/DT Robert Hollis) vs #73 (OG Dylan Hartsook)
I know Hollis is a walk-on guard, and I assume Hartsook is the same. Hollis has 50 pounds on Hartsook, but he's also a guard, so there's no way to know what to expect here.
Hollis lets Hartsook get under him, but he shows pretty good hand technique to keep Hartsook's hands on the outside of his. Hollis is just so much bigger that giving up leverage to Hartsook doesn't matter, and he just makes the tackle like Hartsook isn't there.
Hollis didn't even seem to try to keep his pad level down, but with a 50-pound advantage on just about every DT in the country, I'm not sure that'll ever matter. Again, the level of competition from Hartsook makes me worry about gleening much from this, but Hollis certainly looked absolutely dominant.Battle 5 - #94 (DT Torrea Peterson) vs #74 (OG Adam Shead)
Shead has 30 pounds on Peterson, but more importantly, he's Adam Shead so he should absolutely maul anyone who likes up opposite of him.
Peterson keeps the blocker from getting his hands inside of his, and keeps him from locking him up. He does let the blocker drive him back and turn him, effecting getting himself boxed out of making a play. Terrible footwork from Peterson looks to be the blame.
Technique by the Shead is excellent. He can't lock his man up, so he turns him and uses his body to box him out of the play. He didn't really dominate his man, but there's no doubt that Shead won the battle.
Battle 6 - #85 (DE Geneo Grissom) vs ??? (Looks like #71, OT Tyrus Thompson)
Thompson has 60 pounds on Grissom, so you're pretty much going to expect Thompson to physically dominate him if he can get a hold of him. Size vs quickness.
Grissom lets Thompson get under him and lets him get his hands inside of his, but Thompson never locks up, gets off balance, and lets Grissom swim out of the block. Really, this looks like lazy technique from Thompson and poor technique from Grissom, but that swim move by Grissom was legit. It's possible that Grissom was intentionally giving up ground to get Thompson off balance, but, it's hard to tell.
Grissom wins, but I'm not sure if he actually proved anything by doing so. Disappointed in both of them, honestly.
Battle 7 - #84 (DE Mike Onuoha) vs #79 (OT Daryl Williams)
Williams has 80 pounds on Onuoha, so this is clearly quickness vs. power. Depends on the start how this will end.
Williams comes in too low, and it's absolutely over. Onuoha throws him on his face, and then it's a one-on-one match-up with the RB as Williams has taken himself out of the play entirely.
Williams gets dominated because of poor technique, and Onuoha gets a freebie.
Battle 8 - #80 (DT Jordan Phillips) vs #68 (OG Bronson Irwin)
Not really a size advantage here, so this could go either way. Irwin has experience, but Phillips is the superior athlete.
Phillips gets under Irwin and stands him up, keeps Irwin's hands outside, and absolutely drives him back. It looks like Irwin pulls his shoulder pad up to obscure his view of the RB, which seems like a crafty veteran move.
So, Phillips absolutely dominates Irwin while the running back casually walks beside them into the end zone. Irwin "wins" but he has to celebrate while getting blown back 5 yards off the ball. I'll give the point to Phillips, but someone remind him to at least TRY to get the guy with the ball next time...
Battle 9 - #93 (DT Jordan Wade) vs #56 (C Ty Darlington)
Same deal as the previous battle, but with less experience on both sides.
Not sure if Darlington slips or Wade is just that powerful, but Wade manages to meet Darlington at the same level and just absolutely stop him dead in his tracks. He then casually throws him to the ground like a rag doll, sidesteps a cutblock attempt by Darlington, but has also put himself too far out of position to make a tackle. Darlington's dive effectively frees the RB, but it's hard to know if that was intentional or not.
Darlington seemingly gets manhandled here, but he still manages to dive at Wade to get him out of position. Sort of the same deal with Phillips and Irwin where it's hard to watch that and say Darlington won... so give the props to Wade and remind him it's meaningless if he doesn't make the tackle...
Battle 10 - #40 (DE P.L. Lindley) vs #81 (TE Sam Grant)
DE vs TE is a toss-up, so there's no prediction here.
Lindley keeps Grant from getting under him, but poor technique lets him get his hands inside and poor footwork lets him turn him out of the play.
Textbook blocking by Grant, and bad technique by Lindley (Coach Montgomery immediately shows him the proper technique and doesn't seem to dog the kid... definitely like seeing that). Win clearly goes to Grant.
Battle 11 - #29 (DE Rashod Favors) vs #56 (C Ty Darlington)
Darlington has 20 pounds, so he should hold the point of attack and come out on top.
Darlington gets under Favors, but Favors uses his arms really well to keeping Darlington from locking him up or driving him back. Darlington shows some poor footwork, and that allows Favors to throw him aside and go after the back.
Favors clear wins this round, and Darlington again shows that his footwork causes him to get off balance and thrown to the ground.
Battle 12 - #91(DE Charles Tapper) vs #78 (OG Kyle Marrs)
Marrs has 50 pounds on Tapper, so he should win this fairly easily.
Contact is made with excellent pad level by both Tapper and Mars, but Tapper uses his hands to keep Marrs from locking him out, and uses his arms to disengage and throw down Marrs.
I assume there's some poor footwork by Marrs to blame for making this look so easy for Tapper, who clearly dominated him.
Battle 13 - #67(OG/DT Robert Hollis) vs #73 (Dylan Hartsook)
Disappointed this was against the same over-matched guard.
Hollis again really lets Hartsook get under him and lock him up, but he's so big he grabs the running back and falls down.
Really, I don't see any technique from Hollis. He seems to show decent footwork to keep his balance... Seems like really good technique from Hartsook, but he was just at such a physical disadvantage there was nothing he could do win.
I'd be interested to see Hollis go up against someone who's physically capable of competing with him, like Adam Shead, as I just don't think anyone else is capable of doing much against his size. This isn't to say he'd be particularly effective in a game where there are 40 yards to run around him, but in the Oklahoma drill, he just swallows the entire running lane and probably can't be moved by anyone (except possibly Adam Shead).
Battle 14 - #84 (DE Mike Onuoha) vs #79 (OT Daryl Williams)
Good pad level by both Onuoha and Williams this time. Williams manages to lock up Onuoha this time, and then chop him to the ground after he finally manages to separate.
Seems like Williams was a bit embarrassed by the previous battle, and absolutely gave Onuoha everything he had. Onuoha probably could have used better technique to keep Williams from locking him up, but I'd say this was more about Williams being good than Onuoha being bad.
Battle 15 - #98 (DE/DT Chuka Ndulue) vs #68(OG Bronson Irwin)
Irwin has 50 pounds on Ndulue, so this should be Irwin all the way.
Ndulue tries to use his arms to keep Irwin from getting under him, but Irwin just stands Ndulue up even with his arms fully extended. It's pretty decent technique from Ndulue, but it just shows he's currently too small to be effective at DT. Irwin has no problem knocking him back, even without a leverage advantage.
Ndulue shows good technique to shed the block while giving up ground, but that's the kind of technique you'd expect out of a DE. The DT needs to hold the point of attack, and he clearly isn't physically capable of doing that. If you give up that much ground as a DT, you're giving them 6-12 YPC.
Battle 16 - #93 (DT Jordan Wade) vs $50 (C/OG Austin Woods)
No one has a clear advantage here, so it's hard to expect anything...
What actually happens, though, is pretty impressive. Woods has horrible pad level and lets Wade get under him, so he gets driven back five yards, thrown off like a rag doll, and the running back gets destroyed.
It's impressive to see Wade absolutely dominate someone like that, but it looks like Woods is using pass-blocking technique against a bull rush. Clearly, Woods forte isn't run blocking, but he's primarily the snapper for field goals, so he doesn't need to be.
Battle 17 - #40(DE P.L. Lindley) vs #81 (TE Sam Grant)
No clear advantage here, so no expectation.
Grant lets Lindley get under him, and thus gets driven back. Grant, however, does manage to lock Lindley up, so when the time comes for him to get off his block, he can't.
It looks like Lindley uses pretty good technique overall, but Grant just has him by the shoulder pads and won't let go. Grant needs to lower his pad level at the point of attack, but I like the fight to keep a hold of Lindley just by the shoulder pads (the little shove at the end just drives that point home)
Lindley definitely needs to get some smaller shoulder pads, and he needs to have a better feel for how far back he drives his man. He really didn't even try to shed the block until the running back was already past him, and that's probably because he couldn't see him over his shoulder pads.
Battle 18 - #80 (DT Jordan Phillips) vs #56 (C Ty Darlington)
Darlington gets under Phillips a bit, which is essential to keep from getting blown off the ball by the physically superior Phillips. Phillips uses his arms to keep Darlington from locking him up, but he's a bit too slow shedding the block to make the tackle.
Darlington held his own in this one, but Phillips should have made the tackle. Decent technique all around, but I think the win here goes to RB David Smith for the amazing cut and "getting skinny" through a ridiculously small hole.
Battle 19 - #29 (DE Rashod Favors) vs #82 (TE Brannon Greene)
Favors uses his arms really well here to keep Greene from locking him up, but Greene's footwork leaves a bit to be desired in this instance. Favors drives him back, throws him around, and ultimately sheds the block and makes the tackle.
Greene is at a disadvantage almost from the start, but he continues to fight and claw against Favors the whole round. Favors clearly wins, but again, I like the fight in Greene.
Battle 20 - #91 (DE Charles Tapper) vs ??? (I'm guessing #73, Dylan Harstook but I can't tell. Could be #72 Derek Farniok as well)
I'm not sure how the leverage works with the hand placement, but Tapper manages to somehow get leverage under the blocker, stand him up, and then just throw him aside. At that point, the blocker tries to submarine him, fails, and Tapper probably makes the tackle.
I think this is an instance where Tapper's long arms allow him to have leverage in a situation where it doesn't look like he should. More or less decent technique on both sides, but Tapper is superior physically and thus comes away with the clear victory.
Battle 21 - #94 (DT Torrea Peterson) vs #74 (OG Adam Shead)
Shead comes in way, way too low, and Peterson just throws him aside. Pretty sure Roy Finch would have won that battle.
Really impressive looking to watch Peterson dominate Shead in that matter, but, that was Shead being bad more than Peterson being good.
Battle 22 - #98 (DE/DT Chuka Ndulue) vs #68 (OG Bronson Irwin)
Ndulue really gets good positioning on Irwin, but then Irwin just grabs him and throws him around like a ragdoll.
Absolutely another example of Ndule just being too small to be effective as a DT. This experiment needs to end, or Ndulue needs to gain 20-30 pounds. Irwin just drags him across the field by his jersey...
Battle 23 - #40 (DE P.L. Lindley) vs #79 (OT Daryl Williams)
Pad level is equal at the point of attack, and that's always going to be bad for the smaller guy. With equal leverage, Williams stands Lindley up, turns him, and drives him away from the ball.
Really good technique by Williams, but he won because he was physically superior to the rusher.
Battle 24 - #80 (DT Jordan Phillips) vs #56 (C Ty Darlington)
Decent pad level by both, Phillips is physically superior so he manages to drive Darlington back a couple of yards. Uses his arms well to shed Darlington, but Darlington clings to his jersey for a bit after the block is shed.
This is yet another instance where good technique was used on both sides, and thus the physically superior player came out on top.
Overall, I found our defensive players to be physically superior, and our offensive players to play with better overall technique. The blockers often found a way to win even when they were at a physical disadvantage. They sort of will their way to victory. This should change as our defenders get more time with Coach M, as he's primarily a teacher of technique. The physicality is there, and this could be a special set of defenders when the technique improves.
No one defensive guy stood out to me, but I was pretty encouraged by the pad level that Jordan Phillips was playing with. At his size, it's really important for him to keep offensive linemen from getting under him and neutralizing his advantage. That said, his technique in terms of block shedding leaves a lot to be desired, so I don't think he'll end up with a huge number of tackles or sacks next season. I do think he'll get a good enough push to flatten the pocket, and if he can play with the pad level I saw in the video, he'll certainly command the double-team against most offensive lines.
I have no idea how good Robert Hollis could be as a defensive tackle, but I know he's the definition of a "space eater". He's probably never going to make a ton of tackles, but he could absolutely hold the point of attack against just about anyone.
Jordan Wade looks like he'll probably be our most effective defensive tackle of this group, in terms of actually making tackles.
I realize this is a super long post about a 2 minute video, but there really is quite a bit to glean from the short video if you really take the time to break down what you're seeing and consider what you'd expect to see when those particular players line up against each other.
Please feel free to share comments if you interpret anything in the video differently than I did. I'm certainly no expert on defensive line technique, but I'd hope I understand it well enough to talk about it intelligently. Thanks for reading.