Player: Kristofer O’Dowd
At this point, some very key skill players have already left the pool, so it remains a cogent tactic to keep building up my offensive line. And since I’ve got the blind-side covered, it’s time to make sure the rest of the OL knows what they’re doing. To help with that, I’ve taken SoCal Jr. Center, Kristofer O’Dowd.
Career: O’Dowd actually started games as a freshman until injuring his knee in 2007 (dislocated Knee Cap (sorry if you were eating lunch)). He then returned to the starting role in 2008. During that campaign, he received a 1st Team All Pac-10 honor and won the 2008 USC Offensive Lineman of the Year award. Heading into this season, he’s very high on any list of top centers in the country. In fact, he’s the starting center on Phil Steele’s 2009 Preseason All America Team.
Why Him Instead of a Domer: Again, so long as SC OL are in the pool, I’ll take them over domers. O’Dowd’s squad gave up just 18 sacks and gained 195 yards rushing per game in 2008. What did ND do last year in terms of average yards per carry? Because SC gained 5.09. Hate them as much as you want, but on the field, these SC guys know what they’re doing.
Career Vs. Notre Dame: In 2007, still recovering from a dislocated knee cap, O’Dowd did not play against the Irish. In 2008, O’Dowd helped SoCal annihilate the Irish 38-3 while the Trojans gained 449 yards of offense (274 in the air, 175 on the ground). His squad did surrender 2 sacks though – a full .62 sacks over the usual number they surrendered in ’08.
Prediction for 2009: I see almost no reason O’Dowd wont lead his crew to a very strong season. Almost. 1) As much as I believe he who has the best line wins, SC time and again manages to lose at least one head-scratcher to teams who not only have lesser skill-player talent, but who also have lesser – much lesser – line talent. Last year, SC lost to Oregon State in unexpected fashion. Oh, sure, Quizz Rogers had a lot to do with giving the SC defense fits, but the SC rushing game only gained 3.9 ypc over 22 carries – more than a yard off their average – against a rushing defense that was good, but hardly full of world beaters (or SC defensive talent). Getting lackadaisical isn’t just for skill players any more. And 2) O’Dowd is young, and is just starting his Jr. season, but he’s also already had a dislocated knee cap one season and apparently had surgery this offseason for a torn labrum. Hopefully he can remain healthy in 2009.