X'S AND O'S WITH KEN WOODY.
Bench pressing is the premier weightlifting exercise for the big boys who play in the trenches, both offensively and defensively.
Defensive players want to get separation from the blocker and nullify the advantage the offense has of knowing the snap count. Offensive blockers want to explode their hands into the defender's chest and turn their shoulders to open up running lanes. Both techniques come from strength gained bench pressing in the weight room, year-round.
Watch the offensive linemen of Kansas State and Oregon. The Wildcats often go from a "down" position (with their hand on the ground), which allows them to fire off the ball with a lower pad level, and hence, more power. The Ducks go from the "up" position, which allows them to better see the defensive fronts and their pre-snap movements, but restricts their power at the point of attack.
From what used to be in the old days, powerful shoulder blocks, Oregon's linemen are now spreading and "pushing" defenders so Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas can use their great speed to split seams in the defense.
Kansas State has a huge offensive line that, except for their one defeat to Baylor, has had its way with opponents. Collin Klein, the quarterback, is 230 pounds and likes to run behind the purple wave, and with 194 carries he is his team's leading rusher. Oregon's offensive line focuses more on footwork and positioning than power, and except when it's outmatched physically (Stanford, Auburn, LSU), is the catalyst for one of the finest rushing offenses in college football.
Look for the winners of the "bench press" battle at the line of scrimmage and you will probably see a decisive element to the game's eventual outcome.
Talkin' football - As you watch replays of offensive plays in today's game, try to not watch the ball and check out the line blocking. You will undoubtedly see many cases of holding that are not called. If Pac-12 officials were as interested in cutting down the cases of flagrant holding as they are in pass interference calls, you would see a flag on nearly every play.
The rules allow blockers to use their hands, if they keep them within the "frame" of the defender's chest area. Too often, you'll see a hand on the outside of the defender on his arm or shoulder. You can tell blatant holding when you see the defender suddenly get turned away, or detained from where the ball is going. Are holding penalties a big deal? In the Stanford game, a third-quarter holding penalty in the Cardinal's red zone led to Oregon's defeat, one that prevented the Ducks from sniffing the national championship game.
The referees for this game are from the ACC, and it will be interesting to see any differences in rule interpretations. Teams experience this all the time in the NCAA basketball tournament, where teams play with other conferences' officials.