Accolade Honors Nation’s Top College Football O-Line Unit
NORMAN, OK (Dec. 18, 2018) — The University of Oklahoma offensive line was selected today as the winner of the 2018 Joe Moore Award for the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in College Football, announced The Foundation for Teamwork, which has presented the unique award since 2015. The Sooners are the first team from the BIG-12 Conference to win the only award in college football that recognizes a group or a unit.
The announcement of the 2018 Joe Moore Award winner was made during a surprise visit today to Oklahoma’s campus. The Joe Moore Award trophy, crafted by award winning sports sculptor Jerry McKenna, is the largest trophy in college football, standing at a height of almost seven feet and weighing in at over 800 pounds. It will be displayed on the Oklahoma Sooners campus until the conclusion of the 2019 college football season.
Coached by co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh, OU’s offensive line was the driving force behind an offense that is on pace to break the single-season FBS record for yards per play. The Sooners are averaging 8.7 yards per snap this year, a mark that would top the record of 8.6 yards per snap set by Hawaii in 2006. Bedenbaugh’s offensive line unit has been instrumental to OU's success on that side of the ball, also paving the way for quarterback Kyler Murray’s Heisman Trophy winning season.
“In an unprecedentedly close vote, Oklahoma’s offensive line unit narrowly edged out Alabama and Georgia in what many voters felt was their toughest decision yet,” said Aaron Taylor, CBS college football analyst and co-founder of the Joe Moore Award. Taylor played guard and tackle at the University of Notre Dame for the Award’s namesake, the legendary offensive line coach Joe Moore. “Coach Bedenbaugh’s unit seemed to separate itself in the eyes of the voters by their attitude, how well they worked up to the second level and finished their blocks.”
Oklahoma leads the country in points per game (49.5) and yards per contest this season (577.9) despite ranking tied for 107th out of 130 teams in plays per game (just 66.1). OU is also averaging 0.71 points per offensive play. Going back to 1996, the highest end-of-season figure was 0.69 by 2013 national champion Florida State. What makes those numbers even more impressive is the fact that the Sooners had to replace two All Big-12 First Team offensive line starters in Erick Wren and Orlando Brown, two-time All-American and 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield at quarterback, and one of the country's top running backs, Rodney Anderson, who was lost for the year in this season's second game due to injury.
“All three finalists displayed the award criteria in impressive fashion, but Oklahoma made a statement with how consistently they finished and played through the echo of the whistle,” said Cole Cubelic, chairman of the Joe Moore Award voting committee. “They showed a tone-setting attitude in both pass protection and run blocking that really caught the attention of the 200 plus member voting body that has collectively played and coached this position for over 800 years.”
Oklahoma's starting line has featured redshirt junior left tackle Bobby Evans (13 starts), senior left guard and Outland Trophy semifinalist Ben Powers (12 starts), redshirt freshman center Creed Humphrey (11 starts), senior right guard Dru Samia (13 starts) and redshirt junior right tackle Cody Ford (13 starts). Redshirt senior Jonathan Alvarez also started two games at center and one at left guard. All 5 starters with 11 or more starts earned 2018 All-Big 12 Honors.
What Voters Said
“They were technical and fundamentally sound. Consistently finished their blocks. Always looking for work, especially on second level blocks which sprung many of the big runs. Once they had the line of scrimmage secured and displaced, they turned up the intensity and continued tracking and engaging defenders downfield. Beautiful.”
“They exemplified teamwork. They really worked well together in their combination blocks and showed passion to wear their opponents out. Good fundamentals. Finished their blocks. There were a lot of [defenders] on the ground when the play was over and they followed through downfield.”
“A bunch of athletic beasts. The ‘100% Pure Beef, Pancakes on the Side’ motto on the [Joe Moore Award] aprons fits this unit perfectly.”
“Very efficient in both protection and run game. I thought they played with the most attitude. All of the finalists were tough and physical, but it seemed like Oklahoma went out of their way to try punish their opponent any chance they got.”
“They improved throughout the season, playing their best ball late. They are a physical group that looks to impose their will on opponents. Also, because of their 108th ranked defense, they couldn’t have a bad series or half. They had to play well and score often. That factored in for me. There’s a certain amount of pressure to that and I think they rose up to meet it.”
No. 4 Oklahoma will make its 52nd bowl appearance when it takes on No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. CT.
Award Criteria and Selection Process
The Joe Moore Award voting committee judges solely on six criteria: toughness, effort, teamwork, consistency, technique and finishing.
Evaluations were made 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. The voting committee also went through each of the finalists’ season-long highlight reels and multiple back-to-back quarters of game film.
The 13-member Joe Moore Award voting committee selected a midseason honor roll in October 2018, followed by selection of semifinalists in November and finalists in early December. After the regular season, a voting body of 200-plus members selected the 2018 winner 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.
The Joe Moore Award voting committee comprises 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)
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 the only accolade in college football to honor a position group. It 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.
Joe Moore Award Credo
Teamwork. It’s what defines football as a sport and it is displayed in its greatest glory – in its most profound necessity – in the play of the offensive line. For it is there that individual achievement only matters if the entire unit is performing. When we execute together, great things happen. But if one player missteps, the rest of the team pays the price. That idea – along with hard work and the willingness to strive to be your best – embodies what Coach Joe Moore instilled in his players.
But it’s about more than just football. It’s about how we live our lives, how we contribute to society, how we participate in the realization of great things. Teamwork is a bond. It’s a promise. And it’s a commitment to put the greater good above ourselves. It’s the greatest form of individual achievement because it requires total sacrifice – of focus, of effort, of ego. The road to success requires a universal commitment to purpose that creates an unbreakable bond between each of us. And it makes that success one of the greatest achievements on the planet.
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).