COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S MOST OUTSTANDING OFFENSIVE LINE UNIT
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.
THIS YEAR’S WINNER …
Louisiana State University Offensive Line
The Tigers lead FBS in total offense (554.3 total ypg).
LSU is 3rd in FBS, averaging 7.79 yds/play (only trail Oklahoma and Alabama).
500+ yards of total offense in 9 of 12 games, including wins over four teams ranked in the AP Top 10 at the time (at Alabama and Texas, and vs Auburn and Florida).
The Tigers had 481 total yds vs Georgia in SEC CG, 138 more than any other UGA opponent this year.
LSU’s O-line led the way to the most productive offensive season in school history, establishing school records for points (621), points per game (47.8), total offense (7,207), passing yards (5,209), 50-point games (6), and games with at least 40 points (10).
The LSU Tigers offensive line has been selected as the 2019 winner of the Joe Moore Award for the Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in College Football. The announcement was made by The Foundation for Teamwork which has presented this unique award since 2015. The Tigers’ offensive line unit, coached by James Cregg, are the second team from the Southeastern Conference to win the only award in college football that recognizes a group or a unit.
What Voters Said
“Passing as much as this offense did this year puts a unique strain on the group up front and boy did they respond. Sitting and watching these guys on film, the number of pass protection reps that I wrote down ‘Teach Tape Worthy’ next to in my notes was remarkable. Pass pro is definitely not passive for these guys.”
“They define what the teamwork criteria is about. They really worked well together in their combination blocks and in pass pro. Always a lot of [defenders] on the ground when the play was over. Played to the echo of the whistle on a regular.”
The talent in this game is top notch. Each team has 7-9 players that will get serious consideration in the April draft.
Overall, Clemson has better talent on the offensive side of the ball; however, statistically, LSU has slightly out performed Clemson in 2019. A key to this game is that, between the two Tigers, Clemson has better run-pass balance. Getting the run game going for either team will be crucial for success.
On the other side of the ball, LSU has better overall talent, but statistically, Clemson has easily out performed LSU. Clemson’s defense is ranked second in the nation, only behind Ohio State. LSU’s defense is ranked 29 overall.
Amazingly, teamrankings.com, ranks Clemson seventh in terms of strength of schedule as of Jan. 9, 2020. Clemson has beaten three ranked teams: No. 12 Texas A&M in week two; No. 22 Virginia in the ACC Championship game; and No. 2 Ohio State in the CFP Playoff game.
LSU is ranked second, behind Ohio State, in strength of schedule. LSU has taken down six ranked teams: No. 9 Texas in week two; No. 7 Florida in week seven; No. 9 Auburn in week nine; No. 3 Alabama in week 11; No. 4 Georgia in the SEC Championship game; and No. 4 Oklahoma in the CFP Playoff game.
This is a game that should come down to basics. The team that doesn’t turn the ball over; the team than can run the ball; and the coaching staff that makes the best adjustments at halftime will win this game.
Burrow has had a magical season and nothing would be nicer than to see this young man win a championship, however, I’m going with Clemson 34-28.
Coach: Dabo Swinney
Clemson Players to watch:
**Sophomore QB Trevor Lawrence (6-5/205)
Five-star QB Trevor Lawrence is 25-0 since taking the reigns at Clemson. He won a National Championship at a true freshman.
There’s been a lot written about Lawrence’s “sophomore slump.” But, I have to tell you, it’s been hard to see. His completion percentage is up (from 65.2 to 67.5); his yardage is up (from 3,280 to 3.431); his yards per attempt are up (from 9.3 to 10.2); his touchdown passes are up (from 30 to 36); and his QB rating has also improved from last year (from 157.6 to 173.2).
*Junior RB Travis Etienne (5-10/210)
In his three years at Clemson, Etienne has averaged 7.9 yards per carry on 503 carries. He’s just 40 yards shy of 4,000 for his career. He’s also punched the ball into the endzone 61 times (six of those being on receptions).
Look for Etienne to declare for the draft sometime after the Championship game. While some have called him a scatback (in the mold of, say, Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings) with one cut shiftiness. Etienne has good vision, hits the hold extremely hard, has good acceleration thought the hole, and has shown plenty of speed in the open field.
**Sophomore CB Derion Kendrick (6-1/195)
Kendrick will be key factor in trying to slow down LSU’s red hot passing attack. He moved from wide receiver to cornerback this season and performed very well. He’s got two picks and five passes defended and has helped Clemson lead the nation in pass defense. Still, looks for LSU to try to take advantage of Kendrick’s lack of experience.
Senior MLB Isaiah Simmons (6-2/230)
How Clemson decides to use Simmons will be another key to victory. If they can keep Burrow guessing, they might be able to force a turnover or two. From his middle linebacker position, Simmons can pressure Burrow up the middle or he can drop back into zone coverage and try to disrupt the passing lanes. The consensus All-American leads Clemson in tackles, tackles-for-loss, and sacks. He also has three interceptions, six passes defended, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
*Junior WR Tee Higgins (6-4/210)
Higgins, Clemson’s big play receiver, is listed as Questionable heading into the weekend prior to the game. Media outlets report that Higgins is dealing with a head injury, and it is unknown if he will be available for the CFP National Championship against Louisiana State.
Higgins has 56 catches for 1,115 yards. He has an outstanding 19.9 yards per reception with 13 touchdowns.
Coach: Ed Orgeron
LSU Players to watch:
Senior QB Joe Burrow (6-1/216)
Just a year ago, Tua Tagovailoa was the talk of the college football world. It was a season where Tua seemed to do everything right, except win the Heisman or a National Championship.
This year, Joe Burrow is the darling of the football world. He’s won every major post-season award, including the Heisman Trophy. He’s obliterated Tua’s 2018 numbers by passing for 1,242 more yards; thrown for 12 more touchdowns; and has a passer efficiency rating of 204.60. If you recall, Tua ended the 2018 season with an outstanding efficiency rating of 199.4.
Now, all that Joe needs to do to make his season truly historic is to beat Clemson and bring a National Championship back to Baton Rouge.
Senior LB Michael Divinity (6-2/238)
Divinity has missed nine games this season with injuries and suspensions, including the last six straight on suspension for team drug policy violations. He returns to the lineup for one last game.
No one is happier about Divinity’s return than fellow linebacker K’lavon Chaisson. “So, you’ve got two great pass rushers now,” Chaisson told the media. “And even if we’re not rushing, people have got to account for us, and probably send some other players. Then watch us drop.”
“I don’t really have to worry about too much pressure on me, or worry about chip blocks,” Chaisson said. “If they chip me, then Divinity’s going to win his one-on-one regardless. I feel like he’s going to win nine times out of 10. Even though he hasn’t been in games, he’s been working and practicing.”
**Sophomore WR Ja’Marr Chase (6-1/205)
Chase won the 2019 Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver. Chase has 1,559 yards, which is second in the FBS, and 18 touchdowns. His counterpart, Justin Jefferson ranks third in the FBS with 1,434 yards. Jefferson also has 18 touchdown receptions. Chase is the only WR with over 100 targets to average 20 yards per reception this season.
Senior DE Rashad Lawrence (6-3/317)
LSU is tied for ninth in the nation in third down defense. That stout defense is led by senior defensive end Rashad Lawrence. LSU plays a 3-4 and likes to stack the line with 300 pounders. A key to victory for LSU will be getting off the field on third down. If they can limit Etienne and the Clemson running game they could win this game.
Senior OG Damien Lewis (6-3/322)
Lewis sustained a leg injury in the CFP games against Oklahoma, and it is unknown if he will play against Clemson in the CFP National Championship. Adrian Magee, who moved from left guard to right guard after Lewis’ injury, continued to work with the first-team at right guard during Wednesday’s drills.
2020 National Championship Game #3 Clemson vs. #1 Louisiana State University 8 p.m. ET, ESPN Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, Louisiana
College Football Playoff National Championship results:
Cushenberry started all 13 games at center for an LSU offense that set the school record for points (621), points per game (47.8) and total offense (7,206). Cushenberry, along with OG Damien Lewis and OG Adrian Magee, who also started every game on the offensive line for the Tigers, helped pave the way for the first team in SEC history to feature a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers.
Senior OG Damien Lewis (6-3/322)
Lewis wraps up his second year as a starter on the offensive line after joining the Tigers as a junior college transfer for the 2018 season. A powerful offensive lineman with tremendous leg strength, Lewis is the strongest player on the team with a 635 pound squat and a bench press of nearly 500 pounds. Lewis is a punishing blocker who excels in both pass protection and running game. He is one of only two offensive linemen to start every game for the Tigers in 2018 and 2019, joining center Lloyd Cushenberry III.
Senior OG Adrian Magee (6-4/335)
Magee is another powerful lineman with tremendous strength, with a deadlift of over 600 pounds. A versatile lineman that started at three different positions for the Tigers in 2018. He was one of five Tigers to received the 2019 Butch Duhe Award. The award is given to one whose character and contributions to the LSU Football team most personify the idea of unselfishness, dependability and commitment to the team.
*Junior FS JaCoby Stevens (6-2/225)
Stevens, who was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week three times this year, finished second on the team with 82 tackles to go with 8.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and three interceptions.
Senior TE Steven Sullivan (6-7/242)
Sullivan is one of the tallest receivers in school history at 6-foot-7. He uses his large frame and outstanding leaping ability to his advantage. Sullivan has shown good hands and the ability to create yards after the catch. Due to his size and speed, NFL scouts are intrigued with his potential. He has been invited to the Senior Bowl. Don’t be surprised when he gets drafted ahead of some more productive college players.
Note: LB Michael Divinity Jr. has been away from the program due to a personal matter. He is not eligible to return to the field unless LSU advances to the national championship game. While, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a hamstring injury during practice, his status is questionable.
Coach: Lincoln Riley
Oklahoma Players to watch:
**Sophomore OC Creed Humphrey (6-5/319)
Humphrey, a Rimington Trophy finalist and team captain from Shawnee, Okla., has started 25 of his 27 career games for the Sooners at the center position. He is the anchor of a line that has paved the way for Oklahoma to lead the nation with 8.2 yards per play and 11.4 yards per pass attempt (min. 10 attempts per game) and rank second nationally in yards per game (554.2), third in yards per completion (16.0) and passing efficiency rating (195.9), fifth in third-down conversion percentage (50.7) and eighth in yards per rush (6.1). In 799 plays this season, Humphrey has registered 93 knockdowns without allowing a sack. Humphrey was named Big 12 Co-Offensive Lineman of the Year, a first-team All-Big 12 selection and an Academic All-Big 12 Second Team honoree.
**Sophomore RT Adrian Ealy (6-6/325)
Humphrey and All-Big 12 Second Team selection Adrian Ealy anchor an OU offensive line that was named a Joe Moore Award semifinalist for the second straight year. The unit paves the way for a Sooners offense that ranks first nationally in total offense (564.3 ypg), yards per pass attempt (11.7), yards per play (8.4) and third with its 6.4 yards per rush. With OU possibly down to their fourth string running back, the OL will need to perform, and perform well.
Senior CB Parnell Motley (6-0/182)
Motley has accounted for 34 total tackles (27 solo, one for loss) this season and leads the Sooners with four forced fumbles and 11 pass breakups. The senior from Washington, D.C., paces the Big 12 in fumbles forced, is tied for third in pass breakups and tied for fifth with 12 passes defended (11 breakups, one interception). All four of his forced fumbles came against conference opponents.
***rFreshman PK Gabe Brkic (6-2/195)
Brkic took over kicking duties prior to the Sooners’ game against Texas Tech on Sept. 28 and is 14 for 14 on field goal attempts and 45 for 45 on PATs. The redshirt freshman from Chardon, Ohio, is the only placekicker nationally who has made all of his field goal and extra point tries this season (59 for 59).
*Junior DT LaRon Stokes (6-4/275)
Stokes is the fifth Sooner and first since 2005 to be named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. The Tulsa, Okla., native has made a significant impact on the defensive line during his first season at OU. A junior who transferred from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Stokes has started nine of 12 games at tackle, recording 13 tackles (six solo, seven assists) and 4.5 tackles for loss.
Note: According to Rivals’ Sooner Scoop, WR Trejan Bridges, DL Ronnie Perkins and RB Rhamondre Stevenson will be suspended for the playoff semifinal. RB Trey Sermon is out for the season because of a knee injury. RB Kennedy Brooks is battling a neck injury, and his status is questionable against LSU in the Peach Bowl.