When Bronco fans debate what is wrong with the offense, they are really debating what is wrong with the offensive line. They just don't know that they are.
Seriously, though, take a look. Through process of elimination, the offensive line is the obvious scapegoat for a Bronco offense gone AWOL.
- The problem is not Kellen Moore. If anything, the problem is not enough Kellen Moore.
- The problem is not the wide receivers. They are scary good.
- The problem is not Ian Johnson. He is above reproach forever.
- The problem is not offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin or head coach Chris Petersen. They won the Fiesta Bowl, so they're good for awhile.
Guess that leaves the offensive line.
In many ways, it is easy as fans to pile on the O-line when things turn sour. They are big and ugly and no one really understands what they do. Plus, their mistakes are magnified far greater than their successes, so they're pretty much a fall guy waiting to happen.
And what the Bronco offense really needs right now is a fall guy.
Throughout the first five games of the season, the "O" has been up and down, yet no one has really been able to put their finger on what exactly the problem is. Coach Pete calls it "rhythm," but Bronco fans can't associate with a general term like that. We want concrete responsibility for three-and-outs and turnovers. We want someone to blame.
Enter the offensive line. By all accounts, they have played beyond expectations this year. Well, that is to say, they have played beyond our expectations. They still have the expectations of decades of O-line dominance to live up to.
We half-expected a five-man sieve for much of the year, but the line has actually performed admirably. At least, they've performed admirably in the passing game. Kellen Moore has stayed clean for most every game, and he's had time to find receivers and make plays. The running game is an entirely different story.
The holes have been small, and the space has been minimal. Running to set up the pass has not really been an option this season, and we've seen some pretty underwhelming rushing performances.
The fact is that the Bronco offense needs the running game to be successful. In the Southern Miss game, things didn't start clicking until running backs started breaking 10- and 15-yard gains. The run opened up the pass, which opened up the scoring, which opened up a mini-cakewalk. Mmm, mini-cakewalks.
The potential is there. Certainly, a year from now, the talent and experience will be there, too. But in the meantime, are we doomed to watch Bronco running backs run up the backs of offensive linemen every other play? Are we supposed to come to grips with 21-7 and 24-3 victories? Will we ever see a 50-yard run ever again?
Maybe the new Bronco starting lineup will click this week. Maybe Andrew Woodruff will lock down the left tackle position like Ryan Clady and Daryn Colledge used to. Maybe John Gott's beard will be granted NCAA eligibility and take over at center.
Or maybe we're making a big deal out of nothing, the Bronco offense will be fine, and a year from now we'll look back at this post and laugh.
We like the latter.
Read more: Offensive line shuffling continues [Murph's Turf]