I need to come clean guys – I might be in love… In love with the play of Branden Oliver. On Sunday I saw something special. It was not just the numbers… not the 182 all purpose yards, not the two touchdowns, not the two plays of 50 or more yards. No, all those things were nice, but it was the way it was done. It was the punishing blows, the speed, the quickness, the patience, the jump cut, the jukes, the beautiful stiff arm and the nose for the endzone.
It may be a little early in the relationship to be declaring my love or thinking about a trip to the alter, but man that was one hell of a first date.
Some people were drawing comparisons to guys like Sproles and Tolbert. I think someone even coined Sprolbert, but for me I was seeing something different. He was reminding me of glory years. I mean when was the last time a back had a day that special.? A 2 TD, 182 yard day? Its been a long time since we have seen something that special.
With 7:02 left in the 2nd quarter Branden grabbed an outlet pass from Phillip Rivers. He was met 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage and leveled the defender. He met the next defender 3 yards past the line of scrimmage and leveled him as well with another punishing blow. It took two guys to push him out after a 7 yard gain. Oliver had turned a 3 yard loss into a 7 yard gain.
Then with 2:45 left in the second he grabs another outlet pass after Phillip evades the grasp of the defensive lineman. What we saw next was the acceleration and speed as Oliver hit the nitro button and blazed up the sideline. He met the first defender at the 40 which he jab-stepped faked out of his shoes. Next defender, same move – same result. 17 yards after meeting the first defender he was tackled. Not bad for an UDFA.
Then with 48 seconds left in the half came the touchdown run. Legursky goes up field to block, Troutman takes on 91. Follow the center, right? No, Oliver feints to his right, causing 91 to slip into the gap, allowing the block to set up. Extra bonus, the LB bites as well. Then the jump cut and the superhuman quickness. Its all over before the defense can recover. It even made Troutman’s blocking look good.
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Then came the 52 yard scamper. Zone block left. Patience was practiced. Blocks were set up. A crack of daylight. A burst around the end. 52 was stiff-armed to the ground. The acceleration – 27 was left in the dust underestimating the burst of speed . 24 was faked and stumbled. He almost outran two CB for another touchdown. The 52 yards that lay behind him before he was brought down was a beautiful thing.
Then the next touchdown. Tutu clears the LB. 56 can’t cover Oliver and 25 gets blown up at the goal line. YOU CAN’T TACKLE ME FOOL! Oliver made it look easy.
And those were just the big plays. Oliver also had several more 4 and 6 yard runs. They might not have been highlight worthy, but definitely part of the body of work that make it a special performance. The likes of which we had not seen in a long time.
Was it just me or were other people also seeing a short LT out there?
It may be a little early in the relationship to be declaring my love or thinking about a trip to the altar, but man that was one hell of a first date.