Field of Nation’s Top College O-Lines Narrowed Down to Three Units
NEW YORK (Dec. 4, 2018) — The Joe Moore Award for the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in College Football today revealed the selection of three finalists for this year’s national honor, announced The Foundation for Teamwork, which has presented the unique award since 2015.
Finalists in the running to be named the top collegiate O-line in the country include (in alphabetical order) *No. 1 Alabama, *No. 5 Georgia, and *No. 4 Oklahoma.
For games played through Dec. 1, this year’s finalists have a combined record of 36-3 and average 528.1 total yards per game (compared to the national average of 406.1 total ypg) and 235.9 rushing yards per game (compared to the national average of 176.99 rushing ypg).
The award’s voting committee will announce the recipient of the 2018 Joe Moore Award after a surprise visit to the winning university’s campus in late December.
“The finalists embody what the Joe Moore Award is all about, which is hard-working, like-minded individuals working their tails off for the greater good without desire for personal gain,” said Aaron Taylor, CBS college football analyst and founder of the Joe Moore Award. “The voting was extremely close, but the 2018 Finalists separated themselves to the committee through consistency and setting the tone for their entire teams. In addition to the Finalists, I was particularly impressed by Clemson’s growth over the season and Memphis’ tenacity.” Taylor played guard at the University of Notre Dame for the award’s namesake, the legendary offensive line coach Joe Moore.
“Each of our O-line finalists have some unique qualities that really helped them stand out as elite units, but what they share in common is toughness, effort, and finishing their blocks,” said Cole Cubelic, chairman of the Joe Moore Award voting committee. “It was refreshing to see that there is still a commitment to physical football in the modern era, and we appreciate the efforts of the O-line coaches to preserve this fundamental aspect of the sport.”
Finalist Criteria and Selection Process
The Joe Moore Award voting committee judges solely on six criteria: toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique and finishing.
Evaluations for finalists 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, the industry’s leader 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 Joe Moore Award Finalists at a Glance
Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0)
Alabama has scored points on 68.2 percent of drives in which they picked up a first down, the fourth-highest percentage in the nation. Combine that with the fact that the Tide have gone three-and-out on just 9.3 percent of their offensive drives – fourth lowest in the FBS – and it’s no surprise that Alabama has averaged an SEC-record 47.9 points per game.
Alabama has rushed for negative yards on just 54 of their 492 rush attempts this season (11.0 percent), its second lowest mark in the last 20 seasons. Crimson Tide rushers have scored 31 touchdowns this season, most in the SEC.
The Crimson Tide have allowed a sack on just 3.4 percent of drop-backs this season, the second-lowest mark in the SEC and their lowest sack rate in the last 25 seasons. Thanks to that protection, Alabama has averaged 10.8 yards per pass play on third down, second most in FBS.
Offensive line coach: Brent Key
Head coach: Nick Saban
Georgia Bulldogs (11-2)
Georgia is averaging 7.3 yards per play this season, fifth most in the FBS this season and the highest mark in program history. The Bulldogs have gone three-and-out on just 9.6 percent of drives, fifth lowest in the FBS - and averaging 3.27 points per drive, fourth most in the nation.
The Bulldogs have averaged 6.4 yards per rush on first and second down, most in the SEC and fifth most in FBS. Georgia racked up 250 rushing yards in eight games this season, tied with Georgia Tech for the most among Power-5 schools and tied for fourth most in FBS, trailing only Army, Navy, and Memphis.
Georgia’s line has allowed its passers to complete a program-record 68.6 percent of passes and post a 1.6 percent interception rate, the third-lowest mark in program history. Bulldogs passers have been especially effective when opponents blitz, posting a team passer rating of 200.4, third highest among FBS teams with at least 25 pass attempts against the blitz.
Offensive line coach: Sam Pittman
Head coach: Kirby Smart
Oklahoma Sooners (12-1)
Oklahoma’s high-powered offense has been a big story this season, as the Sooners lead FBS in points per game, yards per game, and yards per play. The Sooners have gone three-and-out on just 6.8 percent of drives - nearly two percent better than second-place Army - and they’ve averaged .711 offensive points per snap, the highest mark in FBS in the last 25 seasons.
Oklahoma rushers have averaged 6.7 yards per carry this season, second in FBS and the highest mark in Big 12 history. The Sooners have rushed for negative yards on just 15.2 percent of carries this season, second lowest in the Big 12.
The Sooners has passed for an average of 11.1 yards per drop-back this season, the highest rate in Division I history. Oklahoma has been especially good at moving the chains, as 48.8 percent of its total drop-backs have resulted in a first down or touchdown, the highest rate in the FBS.
Offensive line coach: Bill Bedenbaugh
Head coach: Lincoln Riley
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).
The next step will be for a voting body of 200-plus members to select the 2018 recipient of the Joe Moore Award. 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, select media members and the Joe Moore Award voting committee.
In addition to reviewing game tape every week of the season, the Joe Moore Award voting committee will 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 Joe Moore, widely regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in college football history, most notably 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 trophy in college football, 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 bring 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).
*College Football Playoff Poll as of Dec. 2