I'm no offensive line coach, but I have to think Arizona Wildcats left tackle Layth Friekh will grade out well this week.
Friekh, in his second game back from an NCAA-mandated suspension, led the way for a Wildcats' ground game that produced 442 rushing yards, including 284 from JJ Taylor and 113 from Gary Brightwell, in a 35-14 win at Oregon State.
Friekh, in a postgame interview with reporters said he knew "early" that Arizona would have success in the run game. Taylor's 40-yard TD burst came on UA's first drive.
"I'm glad we opened up the running game because we have explosive running backs just as much as anybody else," Friekh said.
On Taylor's 40-yard TD run, Friekh gets to the second level and kicks out a linebacker to open up the lane for his running back. You can see No. 58 doing that here:
On Brightwell's 43-yard run at the end of the first quarter, Friekh drives the defensive end out of the action, while center Josh McCauley (No. 50) pulls and takes out a linebacker.
On a second-quarter play, Friekh sealed the defensive end and then a linebacker as Taylor took it around the left side for 14 yards. Arizona might like running behind that left side.
On a play late in the third quarter, with Arizona facing second-and-8 from its 8, Friekh pulled and smacked a linebacker as Taylor went 13 yards on an inside run for breathing room.
And on Taylor's 62-yard TD run in the fourth quarter for the game's final points, Friekh drives the defensive end inside, allowing Taylor to run behind his heels into open space.
Those are some of the examples of Friekh's impact.
Asked about the effectiveness of the running game, coach Kevin Sumlin told WildcatsRadio 1290, "Well, there's only one change that's been made."
That would be Friekh, although the senior's re-addition to the lineup caused two other changes. True freshmen Donovan Laie went from left tackle to right tackle, and right tackle Cody Creason went to left guard. Friekh had to sit out the first two games as a condition for the NCAA restoring a season of eligibility after he played briefly as a true freshman.
"It's been the same guys out there except for one," Sumlin said.
"But I think the moves that we made -- moving Donovan from the left to the right, taking pressure off the true freshman, and putting the right tackle at guard -- gave us a stouter offensive line.
"Layth's attitude and experience ... that's one common denominator in the last two games."