The Offensive Line Is Improved But Challenges Remain


Perhaps it is time to give a little love to the offensive line. The run blocking in the Navy game was excellent, by far the best of the season, while the last two games grade out among the four-best pass-blocking games in the Dana Holgorsen era.

In the Navy game, Clayton Tune took a sack in that cringey start to the 3rd quarter, but it was on him. Patrick Paul had gotten his man well upfield, leaving a clean pocket for as long as a QB can expect. Paul didn’t miss his assignment; Tune simply held onto the ball for too long.

In the last four games, the OL has been responsible for just two sacks (one vs. Tulane, one vs. Rice) and only one is credited to a starter. There was a sack in the Memphis game, but that was also on Tune not getting rid of the ball.

The OL has been in 179 pass-blocking situations in the last four games and has given up just the two sacks. Hurries – where Tune’s throw is affected or he’s moved off the spot, are a different story.

UH starting linemen have given up 23 hurries in the last four games, with over half of those coming from the RT spot. Lance Robinson did not play well against Tulane (5 hurries), but after the off-week, he did not give up any hurries against Navy. The two starters on the right side – Tyler Johnson and Robinson – did not join the team until June and are finally starting to gel, according to Dana.

“Those guys are improving. It’s not for lack of effort,” Holgorsen said Monday. “Some of that stuff up front just takes time. That’s a hard position to play, and you got to play as one a lot, and that takes time, and we’re getting there.”

Against Navy, the run blocking was the best it had been all year, with Johnson and Robinson finishing with their highest grades of the season (and the top two OL overall). But Navy dropped eight into pass coverage much of the game, something that the next two teams on the schedule, USF and SMU, won’t do. USF’s top edge rushers (Vaughn #40, Logan #13) played their best games of the year against Tulane a week ago.

USF is in the top 30 nationally in tackles for loss and has a few more defensive stops (plays that are a “failure” for the offense) than the UH defense. The Cougars are unlikely to see as friendly a defensive front as they did in the Navy game, perhaps for the rest of the year.

But the OL progress is hard to ignore.

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