Ranking The Offensive Lines
Boston College OT Gosder Cherlius
Boston College OT Gosder Cherlius
Posted Nov 7, 2007

Which BCS league offensive lines are doing the best job and which are struggling? Richard Cirminiello tries to rank them all by formula, with Gosder Cherilus and Boston College scoring well, but not on top.

Ranking The BCS Offensive Lines

By Richard Cirminiello 

Have you ever wondered which offensive lines are truly performing at a high level during the year?  Yeah, me too.  The preseason magazines can say which ones are supposed to rock, but it’s what happens every Saturday that counts.

Unfortunately, readily available official numbers, such as pancakes, knockdowns, or Raleigh Rails don’t exist for the big boys on the interior.  Too bad, too, because without them, the numbers for quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers wouldn’t open nearly as many eyes.

Out of sheer frustration for not getting access to enough blocking statistics, I’ve been driven to develop a top-secret formula for offensive lines, using a bunch of team stats, such as sacks allowed, yards per carry, and tackles for loss allowed.  Is it perfect?  Please.  However, it is a consistent indicator of which lines have been the most dependable fortresses through the first 10 weeks of the season. 

Keep in mind that a lower score equals a stronger line.  Oh, and that only teams from BCS conferences have been evaluated because preventing sacks in the Sun Belt isn’t quite as impressive as preventing sacks in the SEC.  If you insist, I will divulge that Troy and Central Michigan have both been dynamite in the trenches this season.        

25. Washington State – The Cougars nudged into the No. 25 hole after allowing just one sack in 45 pass attempts in the loss to Cal Saturday night.  While Wazzu hasn’t run the ball especially well, the line has given QB Alex Brink enough time to pilot the Pac-10’s second best passing game.
Grade: 5.96
Big Kahuna: Bobby Byrd

24. USC – The Trojan offensive line has been decimated by injuries, which explains why such a talented ensemble settles in at No. 24.  Just when it looked like USC would get its best five blockers on the field, LT Sam Baker tore his hamstring, and had to be replaced in the lineup by redshirt freshman Butch Lewis.
Grade: 5.41
Big Kahuna: Sam Baker

23. Cincinnati – Considering it’s had to adapt to a completely different offensive system, the Bearcats have done a commendable job keeping QB Ben Mauk clean, and earning a spot at the tail end of the Top 25.
Grade: 5.02
Big Kahuna: Digger Bujnoch   

22. Oregon – Wow, the numbers don’t lie, but the Ducks have looked much better than the 22nd-ranked offensive line in the country.  While others have a few less sacks and tackles for loss, Oregon has dominated at the point of attack, creating space for the nation’s fifth most prolific ground attack.
Grade: 4.42
Big Kahuna: Max Unger

21. Louisville – Consistent with the rest of the team in 2007, the Cardinal offensive line hasn’t played up to its potential, disappearing in run blocking once the cushy part of the schedule ended. 
Grade: 4.18
Big Kahuna: George Bussey

20. Kansas – Shrouded in mystery heading into the season, the Jayhawk line has come through in a big way, especially in run blocking.  Although pass protection has been spotty at times, a sack here or there hasn’t slowed down the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense.
Grade: 4.17
Big Kahuna: Anthony Collins

19. Minnesota – The defense must be the reason why Minny is 1-9, right?  You sure can’t blame the O-line, which has adapted well to a totally new offensive scheme, allowing 13 sacks in 10 games, and springing Amir Pinnix for well over five yards a carry.
Grade: 4.16
Big Kahuna: Tony Brinkhaus

18. Texas Tech – You never anticipate much from the Red Raider ground game, but the protection of QB Graham Harrell has been well above average, allowing only 14 sacks in 574 passing attempts for the country’s top-ranked passing game.
Grade: 4.00
Big Kahuna: Louis Vasquez

17. Texas – An average Longhorn offensive line has been saved by RB Jamaal Charles and a running game that’s averaging almost 200 yards a game.  Pass protection has been a different story, giving up more sacks than all but one Big 12 team.  
Grade: 3.66
Big Kahuna: Tony Hills

16. Cal – Even with lumbering Nate Longshore taking snaps, the Bears have allowed a measly eight sacks on 313 passing attempts.  The running game, however, has fallen on hard times lately, averaging only 3.3 yards a carry over the last three games.
Grade: 3.51
Big Kahuna: Alex Mack

15. Nebraska – And you though there was nothing positive to say about the Huskers this season.  The line has paved the way for a solid season out of RB Marlon Lucky, and allowed just 14 sacks. 
Grade: 3.42
Big Kahuna: Carl Nicks

14. Illinois – The Illini is running the ball better than anyone in the Big Ten because Rashard Mendenhall is an outstanding back, and because the offensive line is a physical group that’s enjoys throwing its weight around.
Grade: 3.31
Big Kahuna: Akim Millington

13. Georgia – Considering that freshmen Trinton Sturdivant and Chris Davis are starters, the Bulldogs have held together extremely well, allowing 11 sacks and clearing a path for another rookie, Knowshon Moreno, to rush for over 150 yards in the last three games.  Someone hurry up and promote O-line coach, Stacy Searels. 
Grade: 3.28
Big Kahuna: Chester Adams 

12. Florida – The Gator line has been the engine for the high-powered offense, helping Tim Tebow contend for the Heisman Trophy and limiting the number of hits the sophomore takes on passing downs.  Once he leaves the pocket, however, he’s practically naked. 
Grade: 3.24
Big Kahuna: Carlton Medder

11. Purdue – Led by G Jordan Grimes and C Robbie Powell, the Boilermakers have been solid up front, but would have ranked even higher had they been able to handle the pressure applied by Ohio State and Michigan in October.
Grade: 3.16
Big Kahuna: Jordan Grimes

10. Missouri – Chase Daniel and the skill position players aren’t the reason the Tigers are No. 7 nationally in total offense and No. 6 in scoring.  Save for the Oklahoma game, the offensive line has done its job since the opener.
Grade: 2.67
Big Kahuna: Tyler Luellen

9. Texas A&M – Stephen McGee, Jorvorskie Lane, and Mike Goodson aren’t the only reason the Aggies average 228 yards a game on the ground.  A lack of consistency is the one thing that’s plagued this veteran unit throughout 2007.
Grade: 2.57
Big Kahuna: Cody Wallace

8. Georgia Tech – The front wall of the Yellow Jackets has been bedrock all season, plowing a path for the ACC’s top rushing offense, while permitting only eight sacks in nine games.
Grade: 2.36
Big Kahuna: Andrew Gardner

7. Oklahoma – The Sooners began the season with one of the best lines in the nation, and haven’t disappointed, paving the way for RBs Allen Patrick and DeMarco Murray to excel, while allowing the fewest sacks in the Big 12.
Grade: 1.81
Big Kahuna: Duke Robinson

6. Oklahoma State – The unsung hero of the Cowboys’ eighth-ranked offense, the line has just one senior on the two-deep, and is going to be nasty for the next couple of seasons.
Grade: 1.80
Big Kahuna: David Koenig

5. Boston College – Although the Eagles haven’t been running the ball with the authority of recent teams, led by hulking LT Gosder Cherilus, they’ve built a cocoon around QB Matt Ryan, who’s having an All-American type year.
Grade: 1.16
Big Kahuna: Gosder Cherilus

4. Kansas State – Head coach Ron Prince has wisely simplified the offense and limited his shots downfield to compensate for an inconsistent line that lacks a star.  It’s worked.
Grade: 0.65
Big Kahuna: Jordan Bedore

3. Rutgers – Hey, Ray Rice is terrific, but he wouldn’t be leading the Big East in rushing without a veteran line that just explodes off the ball.  The Scarlet Knights have yielded only five sacks all year, second fewest in the country.
Grade: 0.39
Big Kahuna: Pedro Sosa

2. Arkansas – Yes, it helps to be blocking for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but the Hog line deserves a share of the credit for an offense that leads the SEC in rushing and allows less than one sack a game.           
Grade: -0.29
Big Kahuna: Jonathan Luigs

1. Tennessee – Although things will get tougher without injured LT Eric Young, the Vols have been magnificent up to this point, allowing a miniscule three sacks in 338 pass attempts.  And it’s not as if QB Erik Ainge will remind anyone of Tee Martin for his escapability.     
Grade: -0.40
Big Kahuna: Anthony Parker

28 West Virginia 5.97
29 Kentucky 6.05
30 Colorado 6.16
31 Penn State 6.19
32 Washington 6.43
33 Baylor 6.62
34 Ohio State 6.81
35 Iowa State 7.30
36 Alabama 8.12
37 Mississippi State 8.26
38 Michigan  8.50
39 LSU 9.26
40 South Florida 9.57
41 Arizona   9.64
42 Michigan State 9.86
43 Vanderbilt 9.88
44 Virginia 10.03
45 Wake Forest 10.11
46 Northwestern 10.43
47 Oregon State 10.58
48 Ole Miss 10.58
49 Miami 10.74
50 Pittsburgh 11.23
51 UCLA 11.51
52 Auburn 11.55
53 Florida State 11.63
54 Connecticut 11.63
55 NC State 11.82
56 Indiana 12.38
57 South Carolina 12.68
58 Clemson 12.69
59 Wisconsin 12.69
60 North Carolina 16.10
61 Iowa 16.70
62 Arizona State 18.55
63 Stanford 18.60
64 Maryland 18.71
65 Duke 20.64
66 Virginia Tech 21.02
67 Syracuse 22.77
68 Notre Dame 26.87