It’s won in the trenches. Dominate the line of scrimmage.
No matter what football cliché one uses, most understand they are describing the offensive line.
Earlier this week, PFF’s Gordon McGuinness outlined the top 10 offensive line groups in the country this season, and as we give one final look at last week by outlining an interesting observation pulled from PFF’s wealth of college data, our Top 25 Observations series focuses on the men up front, highlighting a specific offensive lineman on every team in the PFF Top 25.
PFF's Top 25 Observation series is brought to you by Eckrich, the Official Smoked Sausage of the College Football Playoff.
[Editor's note: This story will focus on pass-blocking efficiency, the PFF metric that measures pressures allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting towards sacks allowed.]
1. Alabama – Team Pass-Blocking Efficiency (PBE) = 90.8 (44th)
LT Jonah Williams
86.2 overall grade, 85.5 pass-block grade, 82.6 run-block grade
The three-year starter has been the Tide’s most consistent performer in 2018. Our third-highest graded tackle has only allowed four total QB pressures (no sacks) in 157 pass-block snaps. His 82.6 run-block grade is also third among tackles and he’s only been penalized once.
2. Georgia – Team PBE = 93.3 (15th)
C Lamont Gaillard
82.3 overall grade, 86.8 pass-block grade, 78.0 run-block grade
While his younger teammate, LT Andrew Thomas, is PFF’s highest-graded lineman overall, the three-year starter Gaillard has been the anchor for our No. 1 offensive line group. The senior, who started his career on the defensive line, is the only non-freshman or sophomore getting significant snaps and having the best season of his career. He’s the fifth-highest graded center in overall grade and in run-block grade while he's only given up three total QB pressures.
3. Clemson – Team PBE = 92.9 (20th)
RT Tremayne Anchrum
73.9 overall grade, 81.5 pass-block grade, 70.9 run-block grade
After leaving the Syracuse game with an ankle injury, Anchrum returned to help Travis Etienne and the Tigers run all over Wake Forest. Anchrum is Clemson’s highest-graded lineman and has yet to allow a QB pressure on the season in 150 pass-blocking snaps.
4. Notre Dame – Team PBE = 88.3 (81st)
RT Robert Hainsey
77.6 overall grade, 75.0 pass-block grade, 75.6 run-block grade
Pass protection has been an issue for the Fighting Irish this season – no matter who has been the quarterback. In the first three games with Brandon Wimbush (67.1), they allowed 36 total QB pressures. Despite improved quarterback play the past three games with Ian Book (77.2), they have still allowed 35 total QB pressures during that span. Now that LG Alex Bars (74.2) is out for the season with a knee injury, Hainsey is their highest-graded lineman in both pass- and run-blocking, allowing 10 total QB pressures (only one sack) on 217 pass-block snaps.
5. Ohio State – Team PBE = 92.7 (22nd)
C Michael Jordan
74.0 overall grade, 85.8 pass-block grade, 68.5 run-block grade
After two seasons of starting with snap one as a freshman at left guard, Jordan is currently our 13th-highest graded center and anchors one of our top 10 overall lines. Jordan has improved each year, especially in pass-blocking. After giving up 29 total QB pressures as a freshman, that number dropped to 16 as a sophomore and to this point, he has only allowed two hurries and no sacks.
6. Wisconsin – Team PBE = 88.9 (73rd)
RG Beau Benzschawel
84.3 overall grade, 85.9 pass-block grade, 82.9 run-block grade
While not the highest-graded lineman on another of our top 10 units, Benzschawel has been the most consistent. The third-highest graded guard is also fourth in the nation in run-block grade. Benzschawel has only allowed three total QB pressures on 128 pass-block snaps and yet to be penalized.
7. Penn State – Team PBE = 87.1 (93rd)
LT Ryan Bates
78.6 overall grade, 79.8 pass-block grade, 74.7 run-block grade
Another top-10 team not very strong at pass-blocking, the Nittany Lions have forced QB Trace McSorley to be under pressure on 32.1% of his dropbacks. Bates, their highest-graded overall and pass-blocking lineman, has been a bright spot this season – except against Ohio State’s fierce pass-rush. On the season, Bates has allowed only eight total QB pressures, but five of those pressures (and two sacks) were in the one-point loss to the Buckeyes.
8. Oklahoma – Team PBE = 95.9 (2nd)
RT Cody Ford
78.9 overall grade, 79.7 pass-block grade, 73.5 run-block grade
The No. 2 overall team in pass-blocking efficiency, the Sooners offensive line has only allowed 14 total QB pressures (one sack). Though not the team’s highest-graded pass-blocking lineman, Ford has only allowed two QB pressures on 174 pass-block snaps. Ford, though, has the Sooners’ highest overall and run-blocking grade and is the 14th-highest graded FBS tackle.
9. UCF – Team PBE = 91.5 (36th)
C Jordan Johnson
72.0 overall grade, 79.3 pass-block grade, 69.6 run-block grade
A three-year starter for the Knights, Johnson is having his best season yet, as his current grades would be a career-high in each phase. Johnson has allowed only four total QB pressures (zero sacks) and been penalized just twice.
10. Washington – Team PBE = 92.7 (22nd)
C Nick Harris
76.8 overall grade, 69.0 pass-block grade, 74.9 run-block grade
Another top-10 unit, the Huskies offensive line does not have a standout performer from a grade perspective but is solid across all positions. Harris is the group’s highest-graded performer and the 11th overall while holding the eighth=highest run-blocking grade among FBS centers. He’s only allowed three QB hurries while only being penalized once.
11. Miami – Team PBE = 87.5 (90th)
C Tyler Gauthier
71.7 overall grade, 80.9 pass-block grade, 66.1 run-block grade
No other Hurricane lineman has been on the field for as many snaps as Gauthier the past two seasons, 92.5% this season (392) and 98.5% last season. The team’s third-highest graded lineman has only allowed four total QB pressures (zero sacks) and yet to be penalized.
12. Auburn – Team PBE = 89.2 (66th)
LT Prince Tega Wanogho
76.0 overall grade, 86.0 pass-block grade, 68.2 run-block grade
After being in and out of the lineup in 2017, Wanogho has improved his grade in every facet this season. He has been on the field for 89.1% (375) of the total possible snaps and allowed five total QB pressures (one sack) while he is the Tigers’ highest-graded run-blocker among their regular contributors.
13. NC State – Team PBE = 93.9 (8th)
LG Terrone Prescod
89.6 overall grade, 90.5 pass-block grade, 90.8 run-block grade
The leader of another of our top 10 units, Prescod has been one of the best linemen in college football this season. He has the second-highest grade among all linemen and is first in run-block grade while only allowing two QB hurries. His performance, along with our third-highest graded center Garrett Bradbury (83.2), will be key moving forward as the Wolfpack look to challenge Clemson for ACC supremacy.
14. LSU – Team PBE = 90.4 (50th)
C Lloyd Cushenberry
66.6 overall grade, 88.1 pass-block grade, 58.7 run-block grade
Cushenberry has excelled in pass-blocking, not allowing a QB pressure or being penalized thus far this season. However, he and the team as a whole has struggled in the run game. Tiger backs have gained 64% of their yards after contact and the team’s 64.0 overall run-block grade is 10th in the SEC.
15. Texas – Team PBE = 90.0 (52nd)
RT Samuel Cosmi
74.5 overall grade, 81.7 pass-block grade, 69.7 run-block grade
Though he has given up 11 total QB pressures (zero sacks), Cosmi is the Longhorns’ highest-graded lineman overall – first in run-block grade and second in pass-block grade. While the Longhorns have allowed 63 total QB pressures through their first six games (10.5 per), that is much improved from the 15 QB pressures per game they allowed in 2017.
16. USF – Team PBE = 92.1 (29th)
C Michael Wiggs
66.0 overall grade, 83.8 pass-block grade, 58.5 run-block grade
Wiggs has played the most snaps and been the most consistent pass-blocker for the Bulls, only allowing two total QB pressures. Run-blocking, though, has been a struggle for the Bulls overall. Their team run-block grade (58.8) is 96th the FBS.
17. Iowa – Team PBE = 93.6 (12th)
LT Alaric Jackson
74.5 overall grade, 87.4 pass-block grade, 65.8 run-block grade
Suspended for the opener, Jackson has come back strong for the Hawkeyes. He is the team’s highest-graded lineman and only given up two total QB pressures in 128 pass-block snaps. As a whole, the Hawkeyes’ offensive line has only given up 16 total QB pressures, the fifth-fewest among teams with over 100 pass-block snaps.
18. Michigan – Team PBE = 93.3 (15th)
RT Juwann Bushell-Beatty
72.8 overall grade, 82.5 pass-block grade, 66.6 run-block grade
After intermittent playing time early in his career, Bushell-Beatty began starting late last season and has kept that spot ever since. The fifth-year senior is now having the best season of his career, only allowing five QB hurries on 172 pass-block snaps and being penalized once through six games.
19. Oklahoma State – Team PBE = 85.2 (118th)
RT Teven Jenkins
77.8 overall grade, 74.8 pass-block grade, 76.2 run-block grade
The redshirt sophomore has already played more snaps in 2018 than he had prior to this season and is currently the Cowboys’ highest-graded lineman. He is also the only Cowboys’ lineman with an overall grade over 70.0.
20. Fresno State – Team PBE = 90.6 (48th)
RG Markus Boyer
73.7 overall grade, 78.1 pass-block grade, 73.7 run-block grade
Seeing his first true action at the FBS level, the junior has the Bulldogs’ highest overall and run-block grade. He has only allowed four total QB pressures and been penalized once this season.
21. Florida – Team PBE = 88.7 (75th)
RT Jawaan Taylor
74.4 overall grade, 74.7 pass-block grade, 77.4 run-block grade
A starter since his true freshman season, the now junior has been the highest- or second-highest graded Gator lineman since he’s been there. He’s only given up four total QB pressures, but his six penalties to date are the fifth-most among tackles. Overall, the Gators’ 66.9 team pass-block grade is 103rd in the FBS even though they start five players who’ve played over 7,700 snaps in college combined.
22. Mississippi State – Team PBE = 86.6 (104th)
LG Darryl Williams
77.3 overall grade, 79.8 pass-block grade, 80.0 run-block grade
Even though he missed the Auburn game with an injury, Williams has been Mississippi State’s most consistent lineman. He’s only allowed four total QB pressures and his run-block grade is the only on the team above 70.0. He is currently the 12th-highest graded guard (and ninth-highest run-block grade).
23. Stanford – Team PBE = 87.1 (93rd)
RG Nate Herbig
72.7 overall grade, 79.7 pass-block grade, 71.4 run-block grade
Though the junior who played his high school ball in Hawaii is having a down year compared to his 2017 campaign (78.1, No. 14 overall guard), he is still Stanford’s highest-graded lineman by far. He’s the only significant contributor on the line to have a grade above 70.0 overall and in the run game.
24. Kentucky – Team PBE = 89.4 (65th)
RG Jervontius Stallings
77.0 overall grade, 72.7 pass-block grade, 77.9 run-block grade
Our 13th overall guard is helping lead Kentucky to one of their best starts in recent program history. Leading the way for Benny Snell (76.2), Stallings run-block grade is also 13th among FBS guards. He’s allowed six total QB pressures thus far and been penalized twice.
25. Washington State – Team PBE = 90.8 (44th)
LT Andre Dillard
83.6 overall grade, 90.5 pass-block grade, 78.0 run-block grade
The highest-graded lineman from another of our top 10 lines, Dillard has allowed nine total QB pressures on 360 pass-blocking snaps (most among all lineman). His pass-blocking grade is ninth among tackles. The redshirt senior has also had pass-blocking grades over 90.0 in each of the previous two seasons.