Hey Guys, well I just saw an eclipse, or the man bigger than the moon, who just happens to be the best pass protecting OG in this draft. I will write up his scouting report when I get back next week, but here is what I saw in the coach's film room;
An All-American Midseason first-team selection by The NFL Draft Report, ESPN, the Associated Press, Sporting News and CBS Sports, the 2016 Outland Trophy finalist is also a member of the watch lists for the Maxwell Award (Player of the Year) and Outland Trophy (Nation’s Best Lineman), as he started all eleven games at left guard…The senior missed a good portion of the Colorado contest after a defender rolled on his right ankle, but he did return to the game for several series and started the following week vs. Arizona…Proved to be an invaluable performer for an offense that currently ranks 27th in the nation with 5,012 total yards (455.64 ypg), placing third in the NCAA Foot-ball Bowl Subdivision ranks and first in the Pac-12 Conference with an average of 375.27 aerial yards per game…The Cougars also rank seventh in the FBC while placing second in the Pac-12 with a pass completion percentage of .676…They are averaging 33.0 points per game and recorded thirty touchdowns on 51 chances inside the red zone (58.82%)…WSU is second in the league and 12th nationally with 267 first downs on offense…Despite their renowned Air Raid attack, the Cougars’ ground game has yet to establish themselves, placing 128th among 129 major colleges with just 80.36 yards per game on the ground…The offense is built upon completing short passes, thus their average pass completion gain of 10.04 yards is 127th in the country and last in the conference…That wide-open passing attack does result in costly sacks and interceptions, as the Cougars front wall has allowed 39 sacks for minus 279 yards (127th in the nation), seventy tackles-for-loss (93rd nationally) and saw their quarterbacks get intercepted sixteen times (124th nationally).
O’Connell Statistical Blocking Breakdown…Despite the high amount of sacks yielded by the front wall, O’Connell has been charged with just 1.5, including a shared sack vs. Boise State where he actually tossed the defender on to his quarterback…Opposing linemen have managed just twenty tackles (1.82 per game) and four quarterback pressures (team has allowed 25) through eleven games, as the left guard registered 107 key blocks/knockdowns (9.73 per game) with eleven second level blocks and an impressive total of twenty-nine touchdown-resulting blocks – six for the ground game (WSU has rushed for seven touchdowns) and twenty-three in pass protection (Cougars have thrown 34 touchdowns)…Compiled a blocking consistency grade of a combined 92.73%, the highest for any guard at the major college level, attaining a 98.9% mark in pass protection.
2017 SEASON GAME ANALYSIS
Montana State…Regarded as the nation’s premier pass protector, O’Connell lived up to that 2016 season reputation with thirteen knockdowns/key blocks that featured three touchdown-resulting blocks, including two for the aerial attack. Washington State had lost its season opener the past two years to members of the FCS Big Sky Conference, but the 24th-ranked Cougars weren't going to let it happen a third time. Luke Falk threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns, setting the school career touchdowns passing record to lead the Cougars to a 31-0 victory in the season opener…
Fellow Cougars offensive lineman Cole Madison noticed his teammates were a lot more focused on winning the opener this season. "There was more urgency towards the game and winning the game," Madison said. "We were ready to go." Thanks to stellar pass protection up front by his blockers, among those most ready was Falk, who completed his first 20 passes of the game as Washington State won a season opener for the first time under sixth-year coach Mike Leach…
Washington State’s first points for the season came on an 11-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Luke Falk to tailback James Williams that capped a 12-play, 73-yard march. O’Connell provided his passer with ample pass protection, as he rooted defensive end Tyrone Fa’anono out of the A-gap to prevent the Bobcat defender from disrupting the pocket…After delivering his initial block to level Fa’anono, O’Connell reached the second level, flattening weak-side linebacker Brayden Konkol to spring tailback Jamal Morrow for a 29-yard scoring scamper on a third-& -2 attempt to conclude a 66-yard drive midway through the third quarter…Despite an all-out blitz, O’Connell retreated into the backfield, holding off two defenders long enough for Falk to scan the field and locate Williams with a 24-yard touchdown toss that staked the Cougars to a 24-0 lead early in the fourth quarter. The coaches then began shuttling in the reserves to get needed playing time, but not until their left guard widened rush lanes for an 11-yard scoot by Williams and a 14-yard dash by Gerard Wicks that set up a WSU 40-yard field goal with 7:26 left in the contest.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…DE#57-Tyrone Fa’anono (6:02-272)-The Bobcat recorded one assisted tackle, late in the first quarter; DT#96-Zach Wright (6:03-273)-The defensive tackle posted no tackles, as both were assigned to “Connell’s area.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered thirteen key blocks/knockdowns that included a pair of touchdown-resulting blocks on passing plays and another on a rushing attempt. He added two downfield blocks and also had key knockdowns for two long runs that set up a field goal…The senior did not allow any sacks, tackles-for-loss or quarterback pressures…Compiled a blocking consistency grade of 99%.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 40-of-48 passes (83.33%) for 361 yards, eighteen first downs, three touchdowns and no interceptions, adding 150 yards, nine first downs and one touchdown on 25 carries (6.00 ypc) to generate 511 yards on 73 total snaps (7.00 yards per attempt) during eleven offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 80 tackles (44 solos) with two sacks for minus 16 yards, three stops for losses of 19 yards, no quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, no interceptions and no pass deflections.
Boise State…In a wild triple overtime finish that saw the Cougars rally from a 31-10 deficit with 8:01 left in regulation to pull off a 47-44 triumph, O’Connell delivered three touchdown-resulting blocks in his final twenty minutes of action, finishing the day with four such blocks and a dozen knockdowns in a game that generated a total of 856 yards on 166 plays for both teams…O’Connell picked up an inside stunt, neutralizing middle linebacker Tyson Maeva long enough for quarterback Luke Falk to connect with H-Back Renard Bell on a 59-yard pass play that was downed at the Boise State 4-yard line. The 10-play, 74-yard march then stalled and the Cougars settled for a 20-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-all with 0:41 remaining in the first half…Having lost starting quarterback Luke Falk in the third quarter to a head injury, the 20th ranked Cougars were down, 31-10, with 8:01 left in regulation when they mounted their comeback. Reserve Tyler Hilinski fired A 17-yard touchdown to Jamire Calvin, as he hid behind the protection on the left side of his line. A combo block by left tackle Andre Dillard and O’Connell held rush ends David Moa and Curtis Weaver out of the backfield, with the left guard twisting Weaver to the ground as Hilinski got his pass off to his intended target…
David Moa was battling to get into the backfield and his blocking assignment, Dillard, lost his containment as the defensive end broke free. O’Connell had just upended nose tackle Sonatane Lui and spun around to see Moa closing on his quarterback, reaching out and shoving the defender to the ground, only to see Moa fall on Tyler Hilinski for a 10-yard sack with 3:59 left in regulation…A fumbled punt by Boise State was recovered by WSU with 2:51 left in regulation and the team set up for what would be the game-tying touchdown drive. Prior to the snap on second-& -1, their left guard recognized the blitz, informing his left tackle to pick up on rover Kekoa Nawahine. At the snap, O’Connel moved laterally to neutralize Moa and also staved off a charge by Lui as Dillard handled the blitz. Hilinski then lobbed a 6-yard pass to James Morrow to knot the score at 31-31 with 1:44 left on the game clock…A questionable call by head coach Mike Leach nearly cost the Cougars the game in second overtime. Trailing 34-31 and facing a third-& -goal situation at the BSU 1-yard line, everyone was thinking it was time to punch the ball into the end zone behind “The Continent,” but his coach opted for a pass play and it failed to reach its target, setting up for a 22-yard field goal on the next play to tie the score and extend the game into triple overtime…As the Beatles song says, “I get by with a little help from my friends” and Jamal Morrow might have been singing that tune in triple overtime. Taking the handoff on third-& -2, the ball carrier was bottled up just short of a first down, but O’Connell came from behind to give that “extra shove” needed to get a new set of downs for the Cougars after the 3-yard run placed the ball at the Broncos’ 14-yard marker. On the next snap, O’Connell repeated the process, helping James Williams advance four yards with a little push from behind on a pass play at the BSU 10. Two plays later, it was old school scramble blocking up front that saw Gerald Wicks reach the end zone from a yard out to hand the Cougars a victory. O’Connell fired low off the snap, taking the legs out from under the Boise State nose tackle to create a logjam of defenders. He then drove into weak-side linebacker Leighton Cander Esch to clear the rush lane the Cougar running back used to reach the end zone…Jamal Morrow caught a 22-yard pass and dove across the goal line in the third overtime to give Washington State a 47-44 comeback victory. Officials reviewed the play to make sure Morrow remained inbounds as he ran toward the end zone on the left side and left his feet near the pylon. It was ruled a touchdown for Washington State, which trailed by 21 points in the fourth quarter. On the snap, Durrant Miles frantically tried to escape a block by O’Connell. The defensive end tried to loop around the senior, but the left guard quickly countered. Miles then tried to dip inside, but O’Connell simply swatted him away. During this confrontation, Hilinski had the time he needed to hit Morrow in stride down the left sidelines.
Record Watch…O’Connell’s four touchdown-resulting blocks tied the school game-record that was first set by guard Mike Utley in a 52-24 defeat of Tennessee on October 1st, 1988.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…DE#55-David Moa (6:03-271)-The Bronco recorded five tackles with a sack during the game, but while blocked by O’Connell he posted two tackles, as the left guard actually knocked the defender down, only to see him fall on the WSU quarterback for a 10-yard loss; NT#98-Sonatane Lui (6:01-309)-The defender made two tackles during the game, adding an assist on one stop over O’Connell’s area.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered twelve key blocks/knockdowns that included three touchdown-resulting blocks on passing plays and another on a rushing attempt. He inadvertently shared in a quarterback sack, but did not allow any tackles-for-loss or quarterback pressures…Compiled a blocking consistency grade of 95%.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 49-of-67 passes (73.13%) for 433 yards, twenty-two first downs, three touchdowns and two interceptions, adding 22 yards, three first downs and one touchdown on 27 carries (0.81 ypc) to generate 455 yards on 94 total snaps (4.84 yards per attempt) during eighteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 94 tackles (48 solos) with five sacks for minus 49 yards, seven stops for losses of 57 yards, one quarterback pressure, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery for a 55-yard gain, two interceptions and five pass deflections.
Oregon State…It was a “pitch perfect” day for the All-American left guard, as he would not only keep every defender he faced away from his quarterback, O’Connell also recorded key blocks on four of the aerial touchdowns recorded by Luke Falk, as the 21st-ranked Cougars beat Oregon State, 52-23, for its fourth consecutive victory over the Beavers. With O’Connell providing protection in the trenches, Falk, the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision active leader with 98 touchdown passes, hit on 37-of-49 tosses for 396 yards without an interception…On third-& -6, Falk hid behind his left guard before lobbing a 21-yard toss to split end Tavares Martin Jr. in the right corner of the end zone for the game’s first points. Defensive tackle Kalani Vakameilalo tried to get into the backfield by pushing off the left shoulder of the Cougar lineman, but O’Connell grabbed hold of the defender and shoved him out of the way with his right hand, giving Falk time to scan the field for an open target…Held to minus four yards rushing in the first quarter, the Cougars found success with their passing game in the second quarter. Falk ended a 64-yard series with a 20-yard touchdown toss to flanker Isaiah Johnson-Mack, thanks to O’Connell playing off his block to seal the left edge from a blitz that line-backer Kee Whetzel was trying to execute, tossing the defender to the ground with an emphatic shove…After Vakameilalo beat right guard B.J. Salmonson to sack Falk for a 5-yard loss, it set up a third-& -22 situation for the quarterback late in the third quarter. Dropping back to pass, he was well-protected by his left guard and tackle holding two defenders at bay, with O’Connell getting some revenge for that hard sack by jolting Vakameilalo with a hand punch to the upper chest. Falk then hit Martin Jr. in stride and the flanker broke free for a 57-yard jaunt into the end zone for a score at the end of the 8-play, 74-yard march…Further cementing his reputation as the best pass protector in all of college football, O’Connell posted his fourth touchdown-resulting block on Washington State’s sixth scoring play of the game, as he moved laterally to stall the forward progress of two defenders before latching on and driving defensive end Paisa Savea back into Kee Whetzel to give Falk all the time he needed to hit Kyle Sweet with a 10-yard touchdown for a 42-16 lead at the end of third quarter action.
Record Watch…Since Scouting Services Inc. - an information service used by the National Football League scouting departments - starting compiling college football blocking statistics in 1978, O’Connell is the first Washington State player to ever receive a perfect grade for blocking consistency in a game…In fact, the only other conference offensive lineman to receive a perfect grade from this organization was Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden, who accomplished that feat twice in 1995 for the UCLA Bruins – on September 30th, 1995 vs. Fresno State and again on October 21st vs. Stanford…The first lineman in the conference to record perfect blocking grades in a game was Southern California offensive guard Brad Budde, attaining excellence vs. Minnesota on September 22nd, 1979 and repeating that mark vs. UCLA on November 24th, 1979…Prior to last week’s meeting vs. Boise State, the last time a WSU blocker posted four touchdown-resulting blocks in a game was guard Mike Utley, in a 52-24 defeat of Tennessee on October 1st, 1988. O’Connell has now accomplished that feat in consecutive games.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…DT#97-Kalani Vakameilalo (6:03-316)-The OSU defender registered a 5-yard sack vs. WSU right guard B.J. Salmonson, but was held to no tackles while O’Connell was his assigned blocker.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered ten key blocks/knockdowns that included four touchdown-resulting blocks on passing plays, adding one second level block as he compied a blocking consistency grade of 100%.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 42-of-58 passes (72.41%) for 431 yards, twenty-three first downs, six touchdowns and no interceptions, adding 60 yards, two first downs and no touchdowns on 16 carries (3.75 ypc) to generate 491 yards on 74 total snaps (6.64 yards per attempt) during thirteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 62 tackles (34 solos) with three sacks for minus 16 yards, eight stops for losses of 24 yards, four quarterback pressures, no forced fumbles, no fumble recoveries, no interceptions, five pass deflections and one blocked kick.
Nevada…O’Connell was credited with ten key blocks, including two on aerial scoring strikes by Luke Falk as the Cougars Air Raid offense threw for 478 yards and five scores in a 45-7 drubbing of Nevada. The four consecutive victories was the team’s best start in sixteen seasons. ''This offense can be a beautiful thing,'' said Falk. Washington State, which opened the 2001 season by winning its first seven games, piled up 560 yards of offense and five sacks…O’Connell firmly established his presence during Washington State’s first possession, as he cleared a rush lane used by tailback Jamal Morrow for an 11-yard pick-up during the first snap, as the left guard simply shoved middle linebacker Gabriel Sewell to the ground to open space for the rushing attempt. Two snaps later, O’Connell dropped into the backfield to protect Luke Falk before the quarterback threw a deep pass for 52 yards to Tavares Martin Jr. that was downed at the Nevada 12. On the next play, Falk was well-protected as O’Connell and left tackle Andre Dillard denied nose tackle Hausia Sekona and rush end Korey Rush any chance for getting into the backfield thanks to that combo block. Falk then hit Morrow in the right corner of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown…O’Connell took the legs out from under Sekona, allowing Falk to drop back and hit James Williams with a 13-yard touchdown at the end of a 64-yard late first quarter possession…One thing that the All-American guard loves to do is to push the pile and he was at his best steam-rolling into the end zone to clear out the rush lane between left guard and center that was used by James Morrow to end a 10-play, 86-yard early first quarter series with a 1-yard touchdown run.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…NT#96-Hausia Sekona (6:00-291)-The Nevade defender recorded two assisted tackles on running plays while blocked by O’Connell; DE#99-Korey Rush (6:01-266)-The rush end posted three tackles during the game, but none vs. O’Connell, coming up with a quarterback pressure on a pass play that resulted in a fourth quarter touchdown.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered ten key blocks/knockdowns that included two touchdown-resulting blocks on passing plays and another for the ground attack, delivering one second level block while compiling a blocking consistency grade of 96%.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 38-of-50 passes (76.00%) for 505 yards, thirteen first downs, five touchdowns and one interception, adding 55 yards, eight first downs and one touchdown on 34 carries (1.62 ypc) to generate 560 yards on 84 total snaps (6.67 yards per attempt) during thirteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 84 tackles (46 solos) with four sacks for minus 34 yards, thirteen stops for losses of 66 yards, two quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception for a 1-yard return and one pass deflection.
Southern California…O’Connell afford his head coach the opportunity of a lifetime – Washington State’s first home victory over a Top-Five ranked team in twenty-five years. The last time a top five team was handed a loss by Washington State was 1992 when the Drew Bledsoe-led Cougars rolled rival Washington in a driving snowstorm…For the fifth consecutive game, Mike Leach’s starting left guard recorded double-digit knockdowns and at least three touchdown-resulting blocks. In his five appearances, to date, O’Connell registered sixteen touchdown-resulting blocks. The second-highest total for an offensive guard in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision was ten, by Texas El-Paso’s left guard Will Hernandez, who much like O’Connell, is an imposing presence at 333 pounds…The Cougar’s only miscue came early in the game, as O’Connell was battling Josh Fatu on a late first quarter pass play, but as he retreated into the back-field, the left guard was bumped by right guard B.J. Salmonson and this allowed the nose tackle to break free from the Cougar blocker and sack Falk for a 5-yard loss. The left guard then manhandled Fatu the rest of the contest…Near the end of the first quarter, inside linebacker John Houston tried to shoot the gap between left guard and center only to be met by the Cougars’ immovable O’Connell, who placed his “paws” on the Trojan to immediately stall Houston’s forward progress. This gave Luke Falk time to unleash a deep toss that Renard Bell hauled in without breaking stride for a 61-yard gain to the USC 28. That series would carry over into the second quarter, where three plays later, Falk dumped the ball off to Tavares Martin Jr. After making his initial block at the line of scrimmage, O’Connell raced into the second level, as Martin wisely decided to follow his guard. Both defensive end Rasheem Green and free safety Marvell Tell III tried to get to Martin, but O’Connell staved both defenders off as his teammate reached the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown that concluded an 89-yard possession to take a 10-7 lead…A combo block by O’Connell and left tackle Andre Dillard cleared a rush lane that Falk used to bolt out of the pocket for a 10-yard keeper late in the second quarter. Tailback Jamal Morrow then followed his left guard’s lead through the hole to break free on a 13-yard jaunt to the USC 30. With just thirteen seconds remaining in the first half, Morrow’s number was called on a second-& -goal rushing attempt and he scored from a yard out to conclude that 12-play, 94-yard march. Everyone on the USC sidelines were cautioning their defense that WSU was going to pass – after all, on fifteen successful scores inside the red zone, the Cougars had thrown for thirteen touchdowns. That was a grand opportunity for the offensive line to play smash-mouth football. At the snap, O’Connell attacked linebacker Oluwole Betiku, driving him towards the left side of the field, as his fellow line-mates did likewise. That left a gaping hole around the right side and Morrow took the ball into the end zone untouched to send both teams to the locker rooms tied at 17-17 all at halftime…Usually, when helmets meet, you hear a clacking. On Falk’s touchdown toss to Morrow, the first sound after the snap was a thunder, as O’Connell smashed into Fatu, nearly decapitating the Trojan as the nose tackle’s body withered under the applied pressure. That opened a hole in the B-gap and Falk delivered a shovel pass to Morrow, who scooted through the crease and for 23 yards into the end zone to help Washington State reclaim the lead at a 27-20 difference with 10:14 still remaining in the contest…After a Sam Darnold touchdown run tied the game at 27-27 with 5:01 left to play, WSU mounted their game-winning drive. Morrow followed his lead blockers on the left side, breaking free from the grasp by Fatu for a 13-yard rushing attempt. Two plays later on third-& -4, another combo block by O’Connell and Dillard neutralized Fatu and rush end Rasheem Green, providing the space that Morrow needed to run through the left side gap for a 35-yard scamper to the USC 23. That 8-play, 60-yard drive would stall, but the two big carries gave the Cougars enough field position to kick the game-winning 32-yard field goal with 1:40 left on the game clock.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…NT#98-Josh Fatu (6:02-319)-Fatu recorded six tackles (3 solos) with 1.5 sacks for minus nine yards during the game, but while blocked by O’Connell, he made three stops (2 solos) that included a 5-yard sack when WSU’s other guard bumped into O’Connell and the Trojan got to Falk; DE#4-Rasheem Green (6:04-277)-USC’s best defensive player posted three tackles that included 1.5 sacks, but while blocked by O’Connell, he did not make any tackles and had two meaningless quarterback pressures.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered eleven key blocks/knockdowns that included two touchdown-resulting blocks on passing plays and another for the ground attack, delivering three second level blocks while compiling a blocking consistency grade of 91%.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 34-of-51 passes (66.67%) for 340 yards, fifteen first downs, two touchdowns and one interception, adding 122 yards, seven first downs and one touchdown on 30 carries (4.07 ypc) to generate 462 yards on 81 total snaps (5.70 yards per attempt) during fifteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 68 tackles (52 solos) with five sacks for minus 27 yards, six stops for losses of 29 yards, five quarterback pressures, no forced fumbles, no fumble recoveries, one interception and two pass deflections.
Oregon…Eleventh-ranked Washington State can add a road win to this season's resume, finally. Luke Falk threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns and the Cougars held Oregon scoreless after the first quarter for a 33-10 victory at Autzen Stadium…O’Connel reached double-digit knockdowns for the sixth-straight game, also recording a blocking consistency grade of 90% or better in each of his first six appearances in 2017…While their early second quarter drive stalled, quick thinking by O’Connell saw him neutralize a blitz by “Jack” linebacker Troy Dye, sending the opponent sprawling to the ground with a two-handed shove, as Luke Falk located Renard Bell with a 21-yard pass at the Oregon 28. The team later salvaged some points from that 73-yard, 9-play march when Erik Powell kicked a 21-yard field goal…Washington State opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive. On second-& -goal, Oregon stacked the line of scrimmage. Defensive end Henry Mondeaux executed a stunt and tried to drive through O’Connell to get to the quarterback, but he sort of looked like a cartoonish character with his legs churning, but not gaining even an inch advantage as O’Connell sustained his block and his quarterback lobbed a 10-yard scoring toss to Renard Bell…
Washington State’s left guard, left tackle and center worked in unison to shift the Oregon defensive line wide-left on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Falk to Isaiah Johnson-Mack on the first play of that fourth quarter series after the Ducks turned the ball over via an interception on their previous drive.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…NT#98-Jordon Scott (6:01-333)-Scott recorded two solo tackles and a 9-yard sack during the game, but was limited to one solo tackles vs. O’Connell; DT#99-Austin Fauliu (6:03-289) and DT#90-Drayton Carlberg (6:05-286)-O’Connell held both defenders to no tackles.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered eleven key blocks/knockdowns that included one touchdown-resulting blocks on passing plays, delivering two second level blocks while compiling a blocking consistency grade of 91%.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 24-of-42 passes (57.14%) for 282 yards, ten first downs, three touchdowns and no interceptions, adding 87 yards, four first downs and no touch-downs on 25 carries (3.48 ypc) to generate 369 yards on 67 total snaps (5.51 yards per attempt) during sixteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 55 tackles (35 solos) with four sacks for minus 23 yards, six stops for losses of 30 yards, three quarterback pressures, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, no interceptions and six pass deflections.
The Cougars (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) were on their first trip after quirky scheduling gave them their opening five games in Pullman. The team is off to its best start since winning seven to start the 2001 season.
''It's a starting point,'' Cougars coach Mike Leach said about winning away from home for the first time. ''We play on the road again next week and we're going to have to improve.''
California…Earlier in the season, Washington State ended their drought by winning against a To-Five team (USC) for the first time in twenty-five years. The Cal Bears ended their 18-year drought by beating a Top-10 team for the first time since 1999, downing the Cougars by a 37-3 outcome…The Cougars came into the game leading the nation behind Luke Falk’s nineteen touchdown passes, but the team failed to produce any touchdowns as their signal-caller was intercepted five times before being benched late in the fourth quarter.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…DT#97-Tony Mekari (6:01-293)-The defender recorded two tackles during the game.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered six key blocks/knockdowns, but for the first time in 2017, he did not post any touchdown-resulting blocks.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 32-of-48 passes (66.67%) for 314 yards, fourteen first downs, no touchdowns and five interceptions, adding 23 yards, three first downs and no touch-downs on 26 carries (0.88 ypc) to generate a season-low 337 yards on 74 total snaps (4.55 yards per attempt) during fourteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 78 tackles (40 solos) with nine sacks for minus 64 yards, twelve stops for losses of 77 yards, two quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries for a gain of 30 yards, five interceptions for zero yards and three pass deflections.
Colorado…Washington State returned to their winning ways, as Luke Falk threw for three touch-downs on a rainy and windy Saturday night to shut out the Buffa by a 28-0 score…Huge holes provided by O’Connell helped tailback Jamal Morrow rush for 73 yards and a touchdown for WSU, which rebounded from a 34-point loss at California that coach Mike Leach called the worst game the Cougars have played in his six years there. "It's an improvement," Leach said. "Our team played hard. We missed some opportunities." Leach acknowledged the weather was brutal. "The first half was pretty extreme," Leach said. "The wind was blowing and all the swirling rain makes it tough."…
It also made it tough to keep their All-American guard on the field, as an ankle injury would force him to the sidelines, but before he left, he delivered eight knockdowns to the cause…Washington State did not score on their opening drive, but the thud could be heard throughout the stadium, as the 355-pound O’Connell flattened 353-pound nose tackle Javier Edwards to spring tailback Jamal Murrow for a 10-yard gain during the game’s third play from scrimmage…While assisting center Frederick Mauigoa on an in-line drive block that neutralized Edwards, another defender rolled up on O’Connell’s right ankle. The left guard tried to stand up, but went to the ground before trainers and the medical staff assisted him off the field during a 6-yard running play executed by Gerard Wicks early in the second quarter. WSU would go on to score during that series, as Luke Falk tossed a 50-yard touchdown bomb to Tavares Martin Jr. for the first points in the game. Proving that he is tougher than nails, O’Connell spent two series on the sidelines but returned to his customary position to start second quarter action…On his first series back, O’Connell took down defensive end Chris Mulumba in the backfield, freeing up Falk to locate Dezmon Patron with a 21-yard pass on an out pattern to get into Colorado’s territory. On third-& -6, O’Connell widened a hole used by Morrow for an 8-yard fuirst down and three snaps later, the tailback finished the 9-play, 75-yard march with a 9-yard touchdown run. On the score, O’Connell drove two defenders out of the B-gap and Morrow went through the hole and into the end zone for the score that extended the Cougars lead to 21-0. As the third quarter started to wind down, head coach Mike Leach noticed his standout left guard still struggling to move with his ankle injury and the senior was replaced in the lineup for fourth quarter action.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…NT#9-Javier Edwards (6:03-353)-Edwards made three solo tackles during the game, but just one stop while O’Connell was assigned to block him; DE#16-Chris Mulumba (6:04-292)-Mulumba posted three tackles and assisted on a sack, but had just one stop vs. O’Connell.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard missed the final two series in the second quarter and the fourth frame after a defender rolled on his right ankle, but he still registered six key blocks/ knockdowns and posted a touchdown-resulting block for the ground game while compiling a blocking consistency grade of 86% (note-injury affected his overall mobility in the third quarter)
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 20-of-43 passes (46.51%) for 212 yards, ten first downs, three touchdowns and no interceptions, adding a season-high 194 yards, ten first downs and one touchdown on 35 carries (5.54 ypc) to generate 406 yards on 78 total snaps (5.21 yards per attempt) during sixteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 55 tackles (37 solos) with two sacks for minus 15 yards, three stops for losses of 17 yards, three quarterback pressures, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, no interceptions for zero yards and eight pass deflections.
Arizona…The Wildcats put 35 points on the board in the second half to down the Cougars, 58-37. Starting quarterback Luke Falk struggled and was benched, as WSU was intercepted three times while attempting an incredible 84 tosses…O’Connell reached double-digit knockdown blocks for the seventh time in nine 2017 appearances and seemed to be fully recovered from a right ankle sprain that saw him miss almost half of the California clash two weeks prior…On fourth-& -goal, O’Connell delivered a perfectly executed scoop block that saw him control nose tackle Laca Bruno, allowing Luke Falk to lob a 1-yard scoring toss flanker Isaiah Johnson-Mack late in the first frame…Working in combination with left tackle Andre Dillard on a slip block that stalled defensive tackle Parker Zellers’ ability to penetrate the backfield, O’Connell slipped off the initial hit to locate and neutralize linebacker Brandon Rutt’s blitz, taking down his opponent as Tyler Hilinski completed a 21-yard pass to “Y” receiver Kyle Sweet at the Arizona 6. On the next snap, the reserve quarterback scooted into the end zone from six yards out on a keeper for a score that capped a 75-yard, 9-play series with 0:10 remaining in the first half. Inserted into the game after Falk had struggled, Hilinski bolted towards the end zone on a broken play. O’Connell was occupying Zellers with hand swipes as Hilinski stood in the pocket looking for a receiving target. With all covered, he bolted up the middle of the field. One last shove by the left guard knocked Zellers off-balance as the defender barely missed reaching out and stopping Hilinski’s dash into the end zone…More mobile than Falk, Hilinski also displayed his howitzer-like arm strength by zipping an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tavares Martin Jr. to start third quarter action. O’Connell protecting his young quarterback, as he stood up Zellers at the line of scrimmage, giving Hilinski a wall to hid behind before locating his target…After completing a pair of passes into tight coverage that placed the Air Raid Offense inside the Arizona red zone, Hilinski dropped back on the next snap to find a target. He spotted O’Connell creating a huge crease in the middle of the field while out-battling Luca Bruno, neutralizing the nose tackle as the WSU quarterback bolted out of the pocket for an 11-yard keeper before he was tackled at the Wildcats’ 1-yard line. After two failed attempts to punch the ball into the end zone by the Cougars, Hilinski called his own number on third-& -goal. With his line executing an old school scramble block in unison, the quarterback slipped into the right corner of the end zone to give WSU a 27-23 lead midway through third quarter action.
Record Watch…O’Connell became the first NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision offensive guard to record at least twenty (22) touchdown-resulting blocks during the 2017 season.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…DT#93-Parker Zellers (6:01-253)-The Wildcat was held to one solo tackle by O’Connell; NT#60-Luca Bruno (6:02-296)-The former tight end posted three tackles during the game, but was limited to one stop vs. O’Connell.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered twelve key blocks/knockdowns, including two touchdown-resulting blocks for the passing game and another for the rushing attack, as he compiled a blocking consistency grade of 96%, the seventh time this season he produced marks of 90% or better.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 58-of-84 passes (69.05%) for a season-high 602 yards, twenty-eight first downs, three touchdowns and four interceptions (nine in the last two games), adding 51 yards, three first downs and two touchdowns on 17 carries (3.00 ypc) to generate a season-high 653 yards on 101 total snaps (6.47 yards per attempt) during eighteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 76 tackles (62 solos) with one sack for minus five yards, two stops for losses of nine yards, no quarterback pressures, one forced fumble, no fumble recoveries, four interceptions for 83 yards in returns and six pass deflections.
Khalil Tate, in his fourth straight spectacular performance, rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown and passed for 275 more and two scores, leading surprising Arizona to its fourth consecutive Pac-12 victory, 58-37 over No. 15 Washington State on Saturday night.
J.J. Taylor gained 157 yards on 13 carries for Arizona (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12), including touchdown runs of 79 and 3 yards after Washington State (7-2, 4-2) had rallied to take the lead in the third quarter behind backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski.
The loss knocked Washington State out of a tie with Stanford for first place in the Pac-12 North. The Wildcats, with just one conference loss, remain in the thick of things in the Pac-12 South with a big game at USC next weekend.
Stanford…Facing one of the premier defensive lines in college football, O’Connell and his line-mates “held down the fort” in an exciting 24-21 decision that saw the left guard deliver the crucial block needed for Luke Falk to engineer the game-winning 95-yard drive with 6:56 left in the contest. ''It's been a great ride and we've just got to finish the ride,'' Falk said, as he completed 34 of 48 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception, and also became the career passing yards leader in the Pac-12 Conference. ''It was the same old Luke we have seen the last couple of years,'' running back Jamal Morrow said. ''Calm, steady.''…Washington State likely needs to win at 12th-ranked Washington later this month to win the Pac-12 North title. ''We've got a lot of work to do,'' Falk said…Snow started to fall heavily at the end of the first quarter, hampering both offenses. Stanford hadn't played in snow since a 1936 game against Columbia in New York…Jamal Morrow burst through the B-gap that was widened when O’Connell and left tackle Andre Dillard exploded off the snap to drive back linebacker Mike Tyler and defensive end Dylan Jackson from the rush lane the tailback used for a 24-yard scamper down the left sideline to the Stanford 12. That set up Luke Falk’s short toss to split end Tavares Martin Jr. for a 12-yard score at the end of a 9-play, 75-yard second quarter march for the Cougars’ first points for the game. With Dillard taking on Jackson, Tyler tried to stunt inside but was met and flattened by O’Connell as Falk unleashed his pass into Martin’s arms in the middle of the end zone…O’Connell’s low block took the legs out from under nose tackle Harrison Phillips on a 39-yard pass completion from Falk to Martin midway through the second quarter. That 71-yard possession would end with the left guard and his center neutralizing Phillips and two other defenders, steering the pile to the right as Falk looked left to find a wide-open Renard Bell for a 27-yard scoring strike… After widening a rush lane used by James Williams for a 12-yard carry, O’Connell made a very timely block that gave Falk time to fire an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jamire Calvin in the left side of the end zone with 6:56 remaining in the contest. The left guard was combining on a block with Dillard that kept Phillips and Jackson out of the backfield, but in a split-second lateral move, O’Connell came off that block and tagged Tyler trying to blitz inside. The linebacker did bump into Falk on the play, but the ball was already in flight waiting to be caught by the reserve “Y” receiver.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…NT#66-Harrison Phillips (6:04-299)-The All-American recorded seven tackles (4 solos) with an 11-yard sack, 2.5 stops for losses of 13 yards and two quarterback pressures during the game, but while O’Connell was his assigned blocker, he made just two assisted tackles and one hurry; DE#97-Dylan Jackson (6:06-266)-The rush end posted five tackles during the game, but was limited to two assists while blocked by O’Connell; SLB#33-Mike Tyler (6:05-236)-The linebacker was in on four tackles, sharing a stop-for-loss while breaking up one pass, but was shut out when matched vs. O’Connell.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered eight key blocks/knockdowns, including three touchdown-resulting blocks for the passing game, as he compiled a blocking consistency grade of 93%, the eighth time this season he produced marks of 90% or better.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 34-of-48 passes (70.83%) for 337 yards, seventeen first downs, three touchdowns and one interception, adding 93 yards, seven first downs and no touchdowns on 29 carries (3.21 ypc) to generate 430 yards on 77 total snaps (5.58 yards per attempt) during thirteen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 69 tackles (49 solos) with three sacks for minus 24 yards, six stops for losses of 29 yards, five quarterback pressures, no forced fumbles, no fumble recoveries, one interception for a 52-yard return and two pass deflections.
Utah…Thanks to downing the Utes, 33-25, Washington State is officially one victory away from being named Pac-12 Conference North champions for the first time since the league created divisions in 2011. Their College Football Playoff hopes also remain alive, as Luke Falk threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns. ''For the last three years, we've been right on the cusp of the thing,'' Washington State coach Mike Leach said. ''We'll see. This is a good group. We've won a lot of games in the Pac-12 in the last three years. We need to win another one.''…WSU led from start to finish and could have won by more. Their left guard contributed two touchdown-resulting blocks, teaming up with left tackle Andre Dillard to hold Utah’s three starting defensive linemen to just a combined one assisted tackle for the game…On the Cougars first scoring drive, Falk was facing a third-& -7 situation. It appeared that defensive tackle Filipo Mokofisi jumped the gun cutting across the line of scrimmage, but O’Connell delivered the initial block before Dillard encountered the Ute, allowing the left guard to slide over and neutralize defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei by standing the defender up, preventing the Ute from getting to the quarterback before Falk completed an 11-yard touchdown toss to split end Tavares Martin Jr…Staring at open coverage on third-& -goal, Falk soft-tossed a 1-yard pass towards the left corner of the end zone and Kyle Sweet reached out to pull the ball in for a score at the end of an 11-play, 75-yard second quarter series. At the snap, O’Connell and Dillard again combined to stall three Utah defensive linemen in the trenches, giving Falk ample time to make the completion.
O’Connell Primary Blocking Assignment…DT#45-Filipo Mokofosi (6:04-299)-The defender recorded the only statistics for Utah’s starting defensive linemen – one assisted tackle; DT#93-Lowell Lotulelei (6:02-327)-The Ute did not record any tackles; DE#11-Kylie Fitts (6:04-265)-Utah’s top pass rusher was held to no tackles.
O’Connell Game Impact…The left offensive guard registered six key blocks/knockdowns, including two touchdown-resulting blocks for the passing game, as he compiled a blocking consistency grade of 89%.
Team Game Performance…The Cougars completed 40-of-69 passes (57.97%) for 311 yards, fifteen first downs, three touchdowns and two interceptions, adding 27 yards, three first downs and no touchdowns on 17 carries (1.59 ypc) to generate 338 yards on 86 total snaps (3.93 yards per attempt) during seventeen offensive possessions.
Opposing Defense Performance…The opponent recorded 68 tackles (40 solos) with one sack for minus six yards, four stops for losses of 13 yards, no quarterback pressures, no forced fumbles, no fumble recoveries, two interceptions for 35 yards in return and five pass deflections.