Rice offensive lineman and running backs will be having flashbacks to Saturday night and Marcus Davenport in particular. The senior from San Antonio Stevens may have had his best night as a Roadrunner with eleven tackles, two sacks, and three and half total tackles for loss. We thought we'd take a look at his evening with a little film study.
A few, first impressions: Davenport is 6-7, 255 pounds. He's a raw, explosive athlete who plays to his size more this year than in years previous. He runs well and gets flat out, up to speed quickly. Let's take a look at a few plays from last nights contest.
We'll start with a simple zone play away from Davenport.
The blocking scheme involves reach blocks to the boundary side, away from Davenport. He's left unblocked. The thought is that the zone read concept and, in this case, the fake pass, will keep Davenport occupied.
Davenport plays his responsibility and sets the backside edge. Davenport keeps his shoulder pads parallel to the line of scrimmage, trusts his eyes and attacks the football. He runs the ball down from the backside and helps hold the Owls to a minimal game. Davenport accelerates quickly, and with his length, he's able to make up ground quickly.
Here's a third down and twelve, clear passing down.
You win on the defensive line off the snap, and Davenport's burst creates a clear mismatch. Davenport beats the tackle with speed and then works to turn his hips and shoulders to get around the edge. If you can beat the tackle to his set, unless there's a chip, the tackle doesn't have a choice but to break his kick step and try to recover. Davenport gets his play side shoulder underneath the tackle to create leverage. The illegal hands to the face don't matter.
Also, note how quickly Rice quarterback Sam Glaesmann moves his eyes to the rush and gets off his spot. That's the product of three quarters of running for your life.
This next one will get Davenport drafted.
Rice loves a jet sweep, they love faking them, running them, and reversing off them. Against Rice defenders, both play side and the back side, have to play with excellent eye discipline. Davenport stays home, keeps his head up, and then does something freakish.
Austin Walter is one of Rice's more explosive players, and Davenport runs him down like a lion on the Serengeti. Watch how Davenport makes up the ground on Walter. You can't coach height, speed, and explosiveness like that. Davenport kills Rice's momentum with a fourteen-yard loss.
Here's a three-play sequence that shows how a dominant line player can influence a game.
On third down, Rice is down by thirteen, its four down territory. The Owls score after their back bounces a run outside. One problem, the right tackle puts Davenport is a full nelson. You can't blame the tackle for trying to contain Davenport. He's been disrupting Rice's plans all evening.
Back Rice up ten yards and replay third down. Here Rice runs their back out of the backfield on a wheel route. Here's another play that will make scouts drool. Davenport runs with the wheel route, and while he doesn't exactly look like Rod Woodson in coverage, the athleticism to make the play is something most humans don't possess at Davenport's size.
Finally, fourth down, the Owls are going for it. Once again Davenport wins off the snap, great anticipation and get off. The tackle cheats a little bit, turns his shoulders to the sideline, but it doesn't matter. Davenport is gone.
I heard Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz talk about how a dominant defensive lineman affects every down, either in the run or the passing game. A dominant interior player like an Ed Oliver is the most unique unicorn, but a long, athletic defensive end can change an offenses trajectory. That's what Davenport did in shutting down that sequence.
One last play, we can't have a film study without an ounce of criticism.
At 6-7, lead blockers are going to attack Davenport's trunk. Here it's an H-back, Jordan Meyers who comes around on a lead block/kick out. If you've got your choice on attacking Davenport, you'd be better served to run at him. That's what Rice does here. Davenport needs to be more proficient at retreating a bit with his legs and using his arms to stuff lead blockers so they can't get into his body like this. Overall, Davenport and most defensive linemen will be better served by using their arms more to create distance and space.
We're excited to see what Davenport does the rest of the season and how the NFL views him. He has the potential to be a Julius Peppers type hybrid rusher if he continues to grow into and use his body.