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The Cardinal Countdown: 60 Days Until Kickoff

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NCAA Football: Charlotte at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

#60 Tyler Haycraft

Class: RS Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-3/290

Position: Offensive Line

Hometown: Louisville, KY (Product of St. Xavier High School)

Twitter: @tyler70haycraft

Thoughts: Tyler has been with the program for a number of seasons now, walking on to the squad out of St. X back in 2015. Tyler was mostly a practice player his first year or two but was knee deep in the battle last season for playing time at center with fellow Tiger Nate Scheler and the eventual winner of the battle, Robbie Bell. Tyler played well during the summer and into fall, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff who rewarded his efforts by getting him on the field in 10 of the 13 games last season. Petrino called out Tyler’s technical ability at the center position and his knowledge of the game as key components as to why he will continue to be a contributor in 2018. If you’ve read through my posts the last couple years I’ve spent some time highlighting the importance of the center up on the line, and how his knowledge of not only the offense but defensive alignments is almost as critical to that of the quarterbacks. Calling out shifts, identifying blitzes, recognizing coverage’s, all while successfully snapping the ball through his legs and getting set before a 300lb lineman blows up the A-gap is not easy. The offense fails if he doesn’t do his job, and Tyler has shown he can do it fairly well.

Two seasons ago I made a quick note about how I felt our offensive line struggles were due in part to our recruiting at the position. The Cards simply weren’t getting the athletes in that group that they were getting at wide receiver, or corner, or Quarterback. Not only were they not filling that position, but they were filling it with undersized players. I ran the exercise back in 2016 to see what our starting O-line’s average height/weight was at that time and compared it to the National Champions from the prior season (FSU). I ran the same exercise last year as well comparing our unit to Clemson. So why not for consistencies sake do it again in 2018? (Rather than make you go back and review that data the nice guy in me compiled it all below. What can I say except…you’re welcome)

As you can see, we’re not only right there in size but actually slightly bigger on average than the last two defending National Champions. Not only did things improve but they improved quickly over a two year span.

The Card’s now have the bodies up front to field a championship caliber offensive line.

Now, this of course is the spot in my post where I give the obligatory “size isn’t everything” counter argument. I could thrown tall fat guys with no talent out there all day and manipulate these statistics with the no issue, the battle is getting these large individuals to also be skillful in their roles. I believe Coach Summers is doing just that, and Puma, Malik, and the QBs beyond should be feeling nice and comfy in that pocket for the foreseeable future.

Sweet Tweet:

Nope. But I am watching O-line breakdowns from 2017. Why? Because as of today we have completed our journey through the offensive line in this year’s countdown. No more slide protection, no more pull steps or slide steps, no more pancake blocks or chop blocks or down blocks, no more A-Gap protection, or B-Gap protection….we’ll fight through this void together folks, we somehow manage to do it every year.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll continue to cover some guys in the front 7 on defense. A group that could make or break how 2018 plays out.