I'm sure this season has been nothing shy of a disappointment for Royce. Since getting hurt against the Cornhuskers he just hasn't looked like himself. The 230 lbs monster that trucks the shit out of LB's. I decided to do a quick breakdown to see if it's indeed Royce that has regressed or if it's something else.
We saw it against Cal and against ASU. Royce is getting stuffed frequently and at times it looks like there are several bodies surrounding him immediately after the snap. Is Royce not following the play call? What is going on here...
Disclaimer: My X's and O's in Football is very limited. I look at the game from a logical perspective.
I don't have time to break down the Cal game so I'll stick with the ASU game. The only difference is that Royce played less in this game as Tony Brooks found a rhythm and a lot of success in the running game. Almost every time Royce had the ball there were some strange things like these happen. It's a small sample size but represents a majority of the outcomes for Royce these last few games.
Here are some examples of why Royce looks like he's regressed but it's actually not his fault.
Bad angles... out of position?
As you can see, the play is designed to go towards the center of the field. Mundt has a really bad angle on his block here...
Ball is snapped and handed to Royce. The o-line is doing a good job of creating a running lane for Royce but the OLB is there to greet him. Royce didn't do anything wrong here.. he just didn't have anywhere to go with the ball.
As you can see he's promptly greeted and Mundt is way off.
LeadBlockers Not Blocking
Here's another example of how Royce is doing the right thing but doesn't get much help. Pharao is supposed to be the lead blocker. The blue arrow shows the gap he's looking to fill depending on how the O-line kicks out.
The play commences and Pharao seems to have a decent gap to work with.
For whatever reason, Pharao decides to NOT hit the gap and block the LB'er but rather step outside.
Royce is smashed up at the line of scrimmage.
This is a great example of poor O-line technique.
The formation is great and this could have been a HUGE run for Royce. Evan Baylis is ready to run through the line of scrimmage and block the Corner waiting down field.
It's really hard to tell from the picture, but if you watch the play the O-lineman decides to engage the outside shoulder of the D-lineman, essentially allowing him to shed his block right off.
As you can see... the D-lineman is allowed to freely roam our backfield as a result of the poor blocking up front.
My last example... which sort of was the icing on the cake for me.
Pharao Brown is the lead blocker for Herbert on this play. Should Herbster keep the ball, he'll have a hell of a running lane to work with. Everything looks good from a pre-snap point of view. If we properly block, Royce goes for an easy 10 yards.
As the ball is snapped, the O-lineman on the top of the screen decides to just run past the D-lineman....
Pharao is working his route. Could have potentially picked this one up but he doesn't know if Herbert has the ball or not...
The result on the play is a loss of yards. Again Royce did his part.
Coaches are correct. Sometimes all it takes is for one player to not do his job and the whole thing falls apart.
In summation I don't think Royce has regressed. Our inexperienced O-line is part of the problem here. It's not easy to churn out huge yards without help up front. Tony Brooks-James is experiencing a lot more success because:
1. Defenses are not keying on him like they do with Royce
2. Tony is quicker and has the benefit of being able to move horizontally to move defenders with him and then plant his foot to go north and south.