Ten O-Line Units in the Running for Top National Honor
NEW YORK (Nov. 20, 2018) — The Joe Moore Award announced its annual selection of the semifinalists representing this year’s Most Outstanding Offensive Line Units in college football. The Joe Moore Award has presented the unique award since 2015.
The ten semifinalists include #1 Alabama, Arizona State, #2 Clemson, #5 Georgia, Memphis, #3 Notre Dame, #6 Oklahoma, #24 Pittsburgh, #7 Washington State, and Wisconsin.
This year’s semifinalists represent six conferences and one independent (in alphabetical order): AAC (1), ACC (2), BIG TEN (1) BIG 12 (1), PAC 12 (2), SEC (2), and Notre Dame. For games played through Nov. 17, this year’s semifinalists have a combined record of 90-20 and average 485 total yards per game (compared to the national average of 409 total yards per game) and 223 rushing yards per game (compared to the national average of 174 rushing yards per game). In addition, the following O-line units received Honorable Mention recognition for their play this season (alphabetical order): Appalachian State, Army, Kentucky, Utah State and UAB.
“As the 2018 college football season heads into the home stretch, the committee felt the semifinalists distinguished themselves by embodying the six award criteria in a way that really stood out on tape,” said Cole Cubelic, SEC Network sideline analyst and Chairman of the Joe Moore Award Voting Committee. “In the end, consistency, technique and physicality will determine who ultimately earns this year’s award.”
The Joe Moore Award voting committee will announce its selection of finalists on Dec. 4, 2018, and the selection of the 2018 Joe Moore Award Winner will be made public after a surprise visit to the winning university’s campus in late December.
“The committee strongly feels the common thread with this year’s semifinalists is that the O-line’s level of play has been integral to the success of their teams,” said Aaron Taylor, CBS college football analyst and co-founder of the Joe Moore Award. Taylor played guard at the University of Notre Dame for the award’s namesake, the legendary offensive line coach Joe Moore. “We’ll expect to see more consistency moving forward however, so these next couple of weeks should tell us all we need to know about which of these units is really ready to earn this year’s distinction as the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in college football. The bar will be raised considerably moving forward.”
Semifinalist Criteria and Selection Process
The Joe Moore Award voting committee judges solely on six criteria: toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique and finishing.
Evaluations for semifinalists were made primarily through weekly review of actual game film and offensive line coach-provided cut-ups on the DragonFly Division I Network. In addition, STATS, one of the industry leaders in sports data analytics, provides advanced O-line data and analytics to give context and clarity, and to help streamline the film evaluation process.
2018 Semifinalists at a Glance
The Crimson Tide O-line has paved the way for 500+ total yards in 10 of 11 games, which is currently the most such games in FBS.
The Tide lead the SEC and are T-9th in the FBS with just 10 sacks allowed.
Alabama is on pace to become the fourth team on record (since 2000) to average at least eight yards per play over the course of a season.
What the committee is saying: “One of the best units. Again. Probably a little better pass blocking than run blocking this year. LT is as consistent as they come.”
Offensive line coach: Brent Key
Head coach: Nick Saban
Arizona State (7-4)
The Sun Devils have only allowed 15 sacks this season, which is 2nd in the PAC 12 and T-24th in the FBS.
Arizona State’s O-line has paved the way for RB Eno Benjamin to gain 1,444 rushing yards this year, just 121 yards shy of the school record of 1,565 (Woody Glenn, 1972).
Benjamin is currently 4th nationally with 131 yards per game and T-12th in PAC-12 with 12 rushing touchdowns.
What the committee is saying: “Scrappy unit. C moves very well in space when he’s pulling. Their hands are where they are supposed to be. They all reset their hands in pass pro well, if they miss. RT is huge. They work to finish. You can see the effort.”
Offensive line coach: Dave Christensen
Head coach: Herm Edwards
Only team in FBS with 400+ total yards of offense in all 11 games.
Clemson’s O-line has paved the way for the Tiger rush game to gain 6.6 yards per carry, which leads the ACC and is second in the FBS.
Of the 6.6 yards per carry, an impressive 71% of the yards come before the ball carrier is touched (4.7 yards before contact), which is 6th best in the in the FBS.
What the committee is saying: “Judging by FSU and BC games Clemson has played themselves on. Finally starting to bring some pop. Pass pro is solid and LG mauls people in run game.”
Offensive line coach: Robbie Caldwell
Head coach: Dabo Swinney
Despite starting four different alignments on the O-line this year, Georgia leads the SEC in Rushing Offense at 257 yards per game and also leads in SEC-only games at 232.
Georgia is on pace to have one of the best scoring averages in UGA history this season. The Bulldogs have scored 40+ points in six games this year and are averaging 39, which is second in the SEC.
Georgia calls a run play on 85% of “Gotta Have It” run plays, defined as 3rd and 4th down and three yards or less, or goal-to-go situations. This is among the highest in the country and indicates that the coaches have a high degree of confidence they will convert.
What the committee is saying: “One of the better coached units I’ve seen. Not quite last year’s unit, and RG 74 being out hurts. But to start a true freshman and operate at the level they do [with all the injuries] is commendable.”
Offensive line coach: Sam Pittman
Head coach: Kirby Smart
The Tigers O-line has paved the way for RB Darrell Henderson to rush for 1,521 yards, which is 2nd in the FBS.
One of only three FBS teams in top ten in yards per play (7.4, 4th in FBS), pass yards per attempt (8.9, 10th in FBS), and rush yards per attempt (6.4, 3rd in FBS). The other two are 2018 JMA Semifinalists Georgia and Oklahoma.
Thanks to one of the most physical O-lines in the country, Memphis’ offense averages 523 yards of offense per game, which is 7th best in the FBS.
What the committee is saying: “They play like a unit of misfit toys with a chip on their shoulders. Tougher than talented and more gritty than pretty but they deserve recognition.”
Offensive line coach: Ryan Silverfield
Head coach: Mike Norvell
Notre Dame (11-0)
The Irish O-line has paved the way for the offense to gain more than 400 yards of offense in of 11 games (only 14 teams have more 400+ yard games).
Notre Dame has averaged 185.5 rushing yards/game in its four victories over AP top-25 opponents. The Irish rank fourth in the FBS in rushing yards/game among teams with at least four games played against AP top-25 foes.
Notre Dame gained 365 yards rushing on 50 carries against the Florida State defense, the most allowed by the Seminoles since Georgia Tech gained 401 yards on the ground against Florida State on Oct. 10, 2009.
What the committee is saying: “Solid improvement from Week 1. Not always pretty or consistent, but rose to occasion against a very good FSU front 7. Shoot hands well and initial footwork is solid. Always looks to finish. Maybe a year away, but it’s there.”
Offensive line coach: Jeff Quinn
Head coach: Brian Kelly
Despite losing preseason All-Big 12 running back Rodney Anderson for the season in Week 2, Oklahoma leads the Big 12 and ranks ninth nationally with its 260 rushing yards per game.
OU is the nation's only team this year with at least 30 rushing touchdowns (36) and at least 30 passing TDs (35).
Behind the Sooners’ offense line, Oklahoma leads the nation with 6.9 rush yards per carry, with an incredible 5.2 of those yards coming before the ball carrier is touched.
What the committee is saying: “Very well coached and better than the unit last year after flipping Bobby Evans to LT. The IOL (interior O-line) plays with great physicality and maintains a functional base / move the point of attack. The OT’s show good range to disrupt [pass] rush plans. They move as one, especially on their bread and butter ‘counter’ look.”
Offensive line coach: Bill Bedenbaugh
Head coach: Lincoln Riley
For the season, Pitt is churning out 247 yards per contest on the ground. That average ranks 14th nationally and 3rd in the ACC.
The Panthers have averaged an incredible 346 rushing yards per game over their last four games.
The Panthers O-line paves the way for their ball carriers to convert 87% of “Gotta Have It” situations (3rd/4th and three or less, and goal-to-go). This is 23% better than the FBS average.
What the committee is saying: “Didn’t see this coming at all, but no denying what they’ve done over the last 4-5 games. Physical and look to punish whenever possible. Lots of free face massages and pancakes. Blue collar group.”
Offensive line coach: Dave Borbely
Head coach: Pat Narduzzi
Washington State (10-1)
Washington State has allowed just seven sacks this season on 537 pass attempts, fewest sacks allowed in the PAC-12 and tied for 3rd-fewest allowed in the country (one sack for every 76 pass attempts).
The Cougars O-line protects a passing attack that leads the FBS with 405 passing yards per game and is T-4th with 37 TD passes.
The power five average for “clean pockets” (pass pro opportunities with no pressures allowed by an O-lineman) is 80% yet, despite being a pass heavy offense, Washington State’s O-line provides a clean pocket 86% of the time which leads the PAC-12 and is among the best in the country.
What the committee is saying: “One of hardest units to judge because of pass heavy scheme. But they are excellent at what they do [pass protection] even though they aren’t asked to do a whole lot. Pocket holds up really well. Extremely consistent.”
Offensive line coach: Mason Miller
Head coach: Mike Leach
Wisconsin ranks 4th nationally in rushing at 277 yards per game.
Wisconsin’s O-line has paved the way for Jonathan Taylor to gain a nation leading 1,869 rush yards, almost 350 more rush yards than next-highest total in the FBS (Memphis RB Darrell Henderson has 1,521 rush yards).
Wisconsin has gained 150+ rush yards in every game this season, one of only four FBS teams that can make this claim (also Army, Houston and Oklahoma).
What the committee is saying: “Been a tough year for Wiscy, but they win because of their OL, not despite it. It looks “familiar”. Very good base and technique. Efficient footwork, the ability to create leverage with pad level and with hand usage. Toughness and mental processing are there.”
Offensive line coach: Joe Rudolph
Head coach: Paul Chryst
The Joe Moore Award voting committee comprises 13 individuals who are highly knowledgeable about offensive line play, including former linemen, coaches, talent evaluators and media analysts. This group conducts in-depth analysis by reviewing game tape every week of the season to assess both the fundamentals and subtleties of overall O-line performance.
The 2018 voting committee includes Chairman Cole Cubelic (Auburn, SEC Network); Charles Arbuckle (UCLA, Indianapolis Colts); Randy Cross (UCLA, San Francisco 49ers); Gerry DiNardo (Notre Dame, head coach at LSU); Mike Golic, Jr. (Notre Dame, ESPN); Dave Harding (Duke, Blue Devil Network); Pat Hill (head coach at Fresno State, O-line coach at Atlanta Falcons); Barrett Jones (Alabama, St. Louis Rams); Duke Manyweather (Humboldt State, player and coach); Geoff Schwartz (Oregon, Carolina Panthers); Phil Steele (publisher or Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, ESPN); Aaron Taylor (Notre Dame, Green Bay Packers); and Lance Zierlein (NFL draft analyst, NFL.com).
After the finalists are selected on Dec. 4, a vote will be held to select the 2018 recipient of the Joe Moore Award by a voting body of 200-plus members. This voting body includes 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 members.
In addition to reviewing game tape every week of the season, the Joe Moore Award voting committee will later go through each of the finalists’ season-long highlight reels and multiple back-to-back quarters of game film.
Past Award Recipients
Past recipients of the Joe Moore Award include the offensive lines of the University of Alabama (2015), the University of Iowa (2016) and the University of Notre Dame (2017).
About the Joe Moore Award
The Joe Moore Award is named after Coach Joe Moore, widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football history. He is most notably recognized for his work at Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh. Coach Moore sent 52 players on to the NFL, including Bill Fralic, Mark May, Russ Grimm, Jimbo Covert and others. The Joe Moore Award trophy, crafted by legendary sports sculptor Jerry McKenna, is the largest trophies in all of sports, standing at a height of 6 feet and weighing in at 800 pounds. The perpetual trophy is made available for display by the winning university until the conclusion of the following college football season.
About The Foundation for Teamwork
The Foundation for Teamwork is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to fostering teamwork in all societal endeavors and bringing 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 (facebook.com/JoeMooreAward).
* AP Poll as of Nov. 18, 2018