Games feature Pitt vs. North Carolina and Wisconsin vs. Michigan State
NEW YORK, New York – September 23, 2016— In its continuing effort to help educate fans on how important the offensive line is to winning football games, the Joe Moore Award will feature games on a weekly basis that feature two OL units that have shown potential to win the award in its “Big Ugly Spotlight”. The list for Week Four features Pitt vs. North Carolina and Wisconsin vs. Michigan State.
On a weekly basis, the Joe Moore Award will provide analysis for the upcoming weekend’s featured games. Stay tuned for Joe Moore Honor Rolls, which will recognize outstanding offensive line play, culminating with the announcement of the 2016 winner of the Joe Moore Award after the conclusion of the regular season.
This week’s “Power Breakdown” will feature the Pitt/North Carolina matchup, with in-depth analysis provided by the team at The Scouting Academy, an online-based instructional curriculum whose instructors bring over 350 years of NFL front office and coaching experience.
“POWER BREAKDOWN” – PITT @ NORTH CAROLINA – 3:30pm ET on ESPNU
These teams kick off their ACC Coastal Division season and both come in with 2-1 records and a lot to prove. Both offenses are playing at a high level, but North Carolina’s unit, which is averaging 42.7 points per game, makes the Tar Heels a favorite in what could be a very high scoring game.
PITT O-LINE VS. NORTH CAROLINA DEFENSE via The Scouting Academy
Pitt operates a single-set back offense that resembles a “flexbone” alignment at times, featuring heavy use of fullbacks on the wings. The vast majority of plays are run from under center. Their run game is based around the Inside Zone (IZ) play and features frequent use of misdirection, jets and end-arounds, with some power runs sprinkled in. The passing attack is based off play action (both zone and power looks used) and sprint action, featuring an abundance of 6- and-7-man protections and heavy use of slide protection. The O-line unit is rarely exposed to one-on-one pass blocking situations as a result of scheme and play calling. This very experienced unit shows good communication and chemistry when dealing with twists and stunts by the defense and works well together on execution of IZ. Combination blocks are clean, which allows for quick release to blocks at the second level - an area in which this group excels. Overall, this is a big, athletic group that moves well on pulls and in space, looks well coached and shows good chemistry.
Pittsburgh Panthers Offensive Line Unit Game Notes
- Tough. Physical. Focused. All signatures of a Pat Narduzzi team and all part of the reason this experienced O-line unit has attracted the attention of the Joe Moore Award committee.
- Pitt is 2-1 on the season after coming off a heartbreaking road loss to Oklahoma State, but their OL paved the way for courageous RB James Conner and Quadree Henderson to break out for 206 yards on the ground.
- For the season, the Panthers’ offensive line has spearheaded a rushing attack that generates 239 yards per game, the 21st best average in the nation.
- In its stirring win over archrival Penn State, the Panthers racked up 341 yards rushing and an average 6.1 yards per carry.
- The Panthers’ ability to pound the ball has allowed them to average 34:20 in time of possession this season, 16th best in the nation.
- Pitt has surrendered only three sacks this season—and only two that the offensive line has been responsible for. (One was on a back.) The Panthers’ average of one sack per game allowed ranks 25th nationally.
- Although an OL Units job is never done, this unit has shown promise with its tough, physical play, and clearly enjoys setting the tone up front, making them an early candidate for Joe Moore Award recognition.
NORTH CAROLINA O-LINE VS. PITT DEFENSE via The Scouting Academy
North Carolina’s spread scheme heavily leans on establishing a physical tone with the inside zone and inside zone rim plays. This sets them up well to use their run-action pass protections, which sucks in the underneath coverage and allows them to throw downfield for 25+ yard gains. As a change-up, the Tar Heels will also run counter plays out of the shotgun with 11 (1 RB, 1 TE) and 20 (2 RBs and 0 TEs) personnel, using that 2nd skill player as the 2nd puller. This showcases their O-line unit’s good size, physical nature and strength to move the point of attack (POA) and create run lanes. Their outside run game features many pin-pull elements to take advantage of their solid ability to control the POA at the TE position. It also highlights the O-line unit’s good overall athleticism and processing to find the most dangerous defender in open space. In the drop-back game, North Carolina will lean on a full-slide protection to pick up any inside defensive twists or stunts, which makes them unable to pop-out and pick up perimeter blitzes coming opposite of the RB. Overall, the Tar Heels have good size, strength and competitive toughness. They play as a unit very well, passing off twists cleanly and playing with good communication to protect level 1 and cover up LBs in the zone run game.
North Carolina Tar Heels Offensive Line Unit Game Notes
- Last year, North Carolina’s O-Line unit was one of the best in the country and was named a Joe Moore Award Semi-Finalist as a result.
- This year, they are right back at it, averaging 42.7 points per game and are 9th in the nation in rushing yards per carry at 6.1.
- As one of the best in the country last year at grinding out “yards before contact”, the Tar Heel OL unit has helped RBs Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan average 6.19 and 7.29 yards per rush, respectively.
- Even without All-American Landon Turner (now with the NFL New Orleans Saints), this line could be as good as the 2015 line that led the nation averaging 7.28 yards per offensive play.
- The spread system run by HC Larry Fedora requires not the biggest OL unit, but one that is smart, nimble and consistent – and one that has had the Joe Moore Award committee take notice.
WISCONSIN @ MICHIGAN STATE – 12:00 Noon ET on Big Ten Network
MATCHUP SUMMARY via The Scouting Academy
The overall matchup will depend on if the Wisconsin offensive line can contain Malik McDowell creating havoc anywhere on the line. If they can confuse McDowell with inside zone and power plays they have a better shot at winning this game. Michigan State has more athletic guys up front, so it will be essential for Wisconsin to keep Michigan State guessing, which will give them a better chance to win this game. Overall, both teams have good competitive toughness, so it will be a great game in the trenches watching each line and how they handle key situations on 3rd downs, 4th downs and in the Redzone.
Wisconsin Badgers Offensive Line Unit Game Notes
- After uncharacteristically struggling to run the football last season, it looks like this year’s unit is playing typical, physical Badger football and has seized the attention of the Joe Moore Award voting committee.
- Wisconsin’s OL has played a major role in its 3-0 record to start the season, including its opening week win over SEC powerhouse LSU, with a defense led by former Badger DC Dave Aranda.
- In that game, the unit controlled the line of scrimmage and Wisconsin held the ball for a total of 36.57 for the game and averaged nearly fie yards per offensive play.
- After a sub-par performance in a too-close win over Georgia State in Week 3, the Badgers will look to prove they are legit against a stingy Spartan defense that leads all Big 10 teams in giving up only 72 rushing yards per game and only 2.48 yards per carry.
- The Badgers hope to see the return of key injured player – including starting RB Corey Clement – as they begin a four-game stretch all against Top 25 teams. Consistency – and finishing drives – in those games would keep the Wisconsin OL squarely in the Joe Moore Award sights.
Michigan State Spartans Offensive Line Unit Game Notes
- The Spartan OL is featured in this week’s JMA “Big Ugly Spotlight” following its impressive performance last week in 36-28 road win over #18 Notre Dame.
- Even after losing three key players from last year’s stellar unit, Offensive Line Coach Mark Staten continues pushing for “one more yard” with seven players playing considerable, meaningful snaps.
- In that game against the Irish, the Spartans OL unit led the way with more than 250 rushing yards on designed run plays, and allowed the offense to rack up 501 yard of total offense.
- The unit surrendered no sacks against a blitz heavy Irish defense and signal caller Tyler O’Connor was only hurried twice.
- In a performance reminiscent of last year’s ball control unit, Michigan State dominated against the Irish with a 37.57 time of possession.
About the Joe Moore Award
The JOE MOORE AWARD is named after Joe Moore, widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football history, and is the only major college football award to honor a unit. The award annually recognizes the nation’s Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit that best displays toughness, effort, teamwork, physicality, tone setting and finishing. The voting committee is comprised solely of people who played or coached the position, including all of the current offensive line coaches at the Division I/FBS level as well as former players, coaches, colleagues of Coach Moore and select media. The inaugural Joe Moore Award went to Alabama in 2015.
About the Foundation for Teamwork
The Foundation for Teamwork is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to fostering teamwork in all societal endeavors and brings that spirit of collective achievement to athletics, education, and organizations. Find out more at joemooreaward.com and follow the Joe Moore Award on Twitter (@joemooreaward), Instagram (@joemooreaward), and Facebook at www.facebook.com/JoeMooreAward.
About the Scouting Academy
The Scouting Academy is an online-based instructional curriculum designed to better educate students in the player evaluation process of National Football League teams. Established by former NFL scout Dan Hatman, and taught by instructors with over 350 years of NFL front office and coaching experience, The Academy establishes a new standard in education for students seeking to enter the NFL in a player personnel capacity. By utilizing an online platform, The Scouting Academy offers a 16-week comprehensive curriculum that allows students to develop at their own pace.