LSU OL earns Joe Moore Award

Gamecocks LSU

By Michael Bonnette

BATON ROUGE – The LSU offensive line, anchored by seniors Lloyd Cushenberry and Damien Lewis and coached by James Cregg, has been named the winner of the 2019 Joe Moore Award as the most outstanding offensive line unit in college football, the organization announced on Thursday.

Aaron Taylor, co-founder of the award and CBS Sports analyst, along with SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic presented the trophy to the Tigers following practice on Thursday morning.

LSU is the second team from the Southeastern Conference to win the award since its inception in 2015.

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 LSU campus until the conclusion of the 2020 college football season.

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“In an unprecedented recognition of physicality in pass protection, Coach Cregg’s unit separated itself in the eyes of the voters by their effort and strain in the run game, and by how consistently they demonstrated that pass protection is not passive,” said Taylor, who played guard and tackle at the University of Notre Dame for the Award’s namesake, the legendary offensive line coach Joe Moore.

LSU’s O-line unit paved the way for 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). Head coach Ed Orgeron’s Tigers also lead the FBS in total offense with 554.3 total yards per game, and will next play No. 4 Oklahoma in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on December 28.

“All of this year’s finalists displayed the award criteria in impressive fashion, but LSU made a statement by how well they played together as a group and brought physicality to everything they did,” said Randy Cross, three-time All-Pro with the San Francisco 49ers, College Football Hall of Famer, CBS college football analyst, and JMA voting committee member. “LSU showed a tone-setting attitude in both pass protection and in their run blocking that really caught the attention of the 200 plus member voting body that has collectively played and coached this position for well over 800 years.”

“The O-line position is extremely difficult to evaluate, especially when doing so for entire units with different offenses and styles of play,” said Cubelic, Chairman of the Joe Moore Award voting committee.

“That’s why we thoroughly go through each of the finalists’ season-long highlight reels and multiple back-to-back quarters of game film. The focus on the film study is the only way the voting body can properly and credibly evaluate the nuances of the award criteria that would otherwise be difficult to see.”

LSU’s offensive line featured eight different starters and only had two players that started all thirteen games at the same position all season. Further, the Tigers’ O-line unit persevered despite only twice starting the same lineup in back-to-back weeks. LSU’s starting line featured senior tackle Badara Traore (3 starts), junior tackle Saahdiq Charles (6 starts), freshman tackle Dare Rosenthal (3 starts), junior tackle Austin Deculus (10 starts), senior guard Adrian Magee (12 starts), sophomore guard Ed Ingraham (2 starts), senior right guard Lewis (12 starts), and senior center Lloyd Cushenberry III (12 starts).

 

What Voters Said

“There is a tendency to hyper-focus on the rushing attacks and the run-blocking of these units, but LSU forced us to really alter our filters and do a deeper dive. They were solid against the run, but their ability to handle protection duties against SEC rushers with so many receivers out in routes was really impressive and one of the reasons QB Joe Burrow won the Heisman. It’s not THE reason, but it’s definitely one of them.”

“It’s incredible how often and how well they pass block in “empty” protection (no TE or RB help). There are plays all season, including the SEC Championship game where they are blocking 6, 7, 8, 10 seconds while Burrow looks to throw downfield. Great awareness in pass pro and often look for work and pick up delayed rushers. Appear willing to happily serve up some “full slabs” by rearranging an unsuspecting D-lineman’s rib cage in slide protection. Very physical bunch.”

“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.”

“Very efficient in both run game and protection. I thought they played with the most physicality. Borderline violent at times. All of the finalists were tough and physical, but it seemed like LSU was particularly prickly when given the chance.”

 

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 Perform, 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 2019, 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 2019 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 Joe Moore, select and qualified media members, and the Joe Moore Award voting committee. (Note: In an effort to avoid conflicts of interest, Chairman of the voting committee, Cole Cubelic, and co-founder, Aaron Taylor, abstain from voting).

 

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 2019 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 (former head coach at Fresno State and 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), the University of Notre Dame (2017), and the University of Oklahoma (2018).