With the season now half over, we're resuming our quarter grades series, figuring that breaking the season into nice, even chunks is a great way to evaluate progress. The grades are a reflection of performance in that quarter, not cumulative over the season.
FIRST QUARTER GRADE: C+
SECOND QUARTER GRADE: F
SECOND QUARTER STATS (First quarter in parentheses)
- Rushing yards per attempt by running backs: 3.49 (4.27)
- Sacks allowed: 24 (6)
COMMENTS: There's no way to sugarcoat the play of the offensive line. They've been as bad as anything that has ever been bad.
Obviously, the injury issues are legitimate. But when you look at that rush per carry total (which would be all the way down to an absurdly abysmal 2.96 yards if you remove Carl Winston's performance against the second and third string Ducks) and the number of sacks they have given up (imagine how high that total would have been had Jeff Tuel not escaped multiple times against USC), there is simply way to give this unit a passing grade.
They faced three defensive fronts, got manhandled by every single one of them, and while they arguably are the three best defensive fronts in the conference, still ... let's just say it was a miracle we didn't have quarterback carnage on the order of last season.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE GRADE: The line is supposed to be a lot healthier as they prepare to travel to Berkeley. But at this point, it's more than just getting guys healthy -- those guys have got to be able to get that nastiness back. We saw some of it early, but it absolutely disappeared as the injuries decimated the line.
On Cougars All-Access on FSN, there's a clip of Paul Wulff imploring his offensive line to play more physically. It's something they did against Stanford, and also to some extent against USC. They must get back to that, and adding Zack Williams and B.J. Guerra -- probably the two most physical offensive linemen we have -- back into the mix should help tremendously.