After a great first date, our second date with Branden Oliver did not disappoint. Are we still in that ‘Puppy Love’ stage? You might want to accuse me of that, but all I see at this point is a very special running back. The strength, the vision, the yards after contact, the nose for the endzone… and the dive. It was a great second outing.
The first hand-off of the day set the tone. Oliver ran up the middle for a modest game. The yardage was not as important as how he finished the play. As Burris slid over to make the tackle he took Oliver’s helmet under the chin and stumbled back. Burris got up and was dancing around our man like he had done something, but I think it was more of that… “Crap! I’m feeling crazy cause I just took a shot to the head.” For me it was one of those, “Hell Yeah!” moments.
Branden Oliver continued to impress throughout the day making gritty runs, breaking tackles, making shifty moves and putting Woodson on the ground. As the game went on I kept waiting for that special moment – another 50 yarder? Perhaps we got spoiled on our first date. Then as we were nearing the end of the game, the little guy put us all on his back and took us to our winning score.
It started with 3:50 left in the 4th and the ball on the 29 yard line. It was a well blocked play and Oliver did not meet his first defender until 2 yards past the line of scrimmage. Burris attempted an arm tackle, but you don’t arm tackle Oliver. Next he practiced a little patience while he allowed a Malcom Floyd block to set up. Then at 8 yards past the line of scrimmage two defenders attempted to tackle him. Oliver carried them for 2 yards where he was met by a third defender. Two yards later they had finally brought him down, but 12 yards had been gained.
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Next play was a delayed hand-off up the middle. Pat Sims meets him 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but Oliver side stepped him and laughed at his arm tackle before he headed up field. Moore shrugged off his blocker and prepared to tackle our man, but he misjudged his speed and Oliver was mostly past him before he lunged at him 4 yards past the line of scrimmage – too little too late. Oliver was greeted by Young and Woodson 6 yards past the line of scrimmage. He literally throws Woodson to the side with one arm, the way someone would have tossed a rage doll.
I need to pause here…. Woodson is listed at 210 pounds. And Oliver tosses him to the side with one arm while Young is on his back. Are you freaking kidding me? He tossed him like a rag doll! What!?!
Back to our story…
It takes Burris catching up to the play to bring him down, but 10 yards had been gained.
At this point the ball is at the 7 yard line. And McCoy sends in the play with a message to Oliver. “Slow down! We are trying to burn up some clock.” Oliver replies, “Tell coach I will run this next one backwards.”
Oct 12, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Branden Oliver (43) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Chargers defeated the Raiders 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Johnson lead blocks to the left. The Raiders over commit to that side and Oliver shoots up the middle yelling, “For Frodo and the Ring!” CJ Wilson grabs hold of Oliver and spins him 180 degrees at the 4 yard line. Oliver runs over Burris and company… backwards down to the one.
Next play. Ohrnberger gets a good push and Oliver leaps over him giving us his best, ‘I look like LT’ pose while scoring the game winning touchdown.
That’s what we were waiting for – another special moment to keep the love affair going. And I am gong to say it, “I am in love with this guy’s play!”… and it is only our second date. I am way beyond ‘Puppy Love”. This kid is special. I am ready for a long term commitment. Maybe someday he will bring us all a ring…