Film Room: Ross Pierschbacher

Ross Pierschbacher - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I typed all this up elsewhere but thought y'all might like it too.

Ross Pierschbacher (whose name I have mistyped so many times while writing this) was a 4 star recruit, the #1 player in Iowa and the #6 OT - he played tackle in high school but was projected as a guard - in the Class of 2014. He redshirted his first year before quickly cementing himself as Arie Kouandjio’s replacement at LG in the spring and summer of 2015. Pierschbacher went on to start all 15 games at LG for Bama and earned SEC All-Freshman honors. He was credited with 33 knockdown blocks and just seven missed assignments all season long.


1st and 10: Coker hands off to Henry, who initially is going right but cuts back left. Pierschbacher didn’t have a man in front of him, so he chips the defensive end with Cam Robinson before moving up to the second level. He misses his block on the middle linebacker, who ends up getting in on the tackle. Granted, Robinson also got beat; and his man was the one who initiated the tackle.

2nd and 9: It’s a handoff to Drake, who bounces out left but is stopped for a loss of one. Pierschbacher doubled teamed the defensive tackle, who was lined up at NT over the center, Ryan Kelly. Piersch starts out a little high but gets under #94, Connor Sheehy (who’s only listed at 274lbs). Nothing amazing from him on this play, especially considering he was double teaming a guy; but I love how he sticks with the block to the whistle. That’s the attitude you want to see. 3rd and 11: If you jump to 16:17 from the previous link, you’ll finally get to the next play. Kenyan Drake is in the backfield, and he motions out right. The play goes left on a WR screen to Robert Foster. Piersch hesitates before moving out to block one of the two defenders over on that side of the screen. He misjudges it and completely whiffs. 4th and 1: Bama hurries up and runs Henry up the middle. Pierschbacher does a much better job this time. He gets his hands inside the DE’s right in his chest and walls him out.

1st and 10: Alabama runs power to the right. Pierschbacher pulls and locates the LB coming downhill. He gets enough of a block on him to keep the hole clear.
2nd and 6: Handoff to Drake. Piersch helps Cam Robinson with the DE for a second before moving on to the second level where he finds and neutralizes a LB.

1st and 10: Handoff to Henry. Pierschbacher gets good initial push on the DE, handles his attempt to swim out of it, and drives him into the ground. Great job.

3rd and 17: Alabama just runs it with Drake. Piersch gets beat by the DE and latches onto the jersey, bringing both of them down.

3rd and 7: Pierschbacher, with a little help from Cam Robinson, picks up the charging defensive end with eases and stones him. Solid pass pro.

Pierschbacher ended up playing left tackle to end the game as more second team guys came in.


2nd and 10: Coker drops back to pass. Pierschbacher blocks DT Davon Godchaux on this one, and it’s a mixed bag. Godchaux is a talented player and could be an early round draft pick when he goes to the draft. The play is a mixed bag for Piersch. He displays good handwork and doesn’t let Godchaux rip or swim out of the block, but he gets shoved about five yards backwards. It is a seven step drop for Coker, though; and Piersch does eventually stop Godchaux’s bull rush. As Coker begins to scramble, Piersch sticks with his man and matches his movements. Coker scrambles for a two yard gain.

3rd and 10: It’s a quick screen to Calvin Ridley. Pierschbacher doesn’t actually do much on this play, but I like what it shows. He gets a hand briefly on the defensive lineman before darting downfield. The play shows off his athleticism, and I like seeing a big body move that quickly. If Ridley had cut it outside to the sideline, Piersch was in a perfect position to block the DB.

Alternate slow-mo angle:

1st and goal: Henry’s long run set up a short goal to go situation. The very next play is just a little handoff up the middle for an easy touchdown. Pierschbacher blocked down on DT Christian LaCouture, almost lunging at him. He shoves him to the side, opening up a hole for Henry, who plows in.

1st and 10: Bama has good field position after a kickoff goes out of bounds with 2:22 left in the half. Pierschabacher gets a good initial punch on Godchaux and gets his hands right in his chest, easily handling the block. Coker finds ArDarius Stewart for a first down.

1st and 10: After a Henry ran for a first, his number gets called again on a run to Pierschbacher’s side. Piersch chips LaCouture before moving on to the second level. He whiffs on his attempted block of Kendall Beckwith (an admittedly good linebacker), who joins in on the tackle. Henry was getting hit no matter what with the very talented true freshman DE Arden Key spinning out of Cam Robinson’s block. Bad play for Piersch, though.

1st and 10: Kenyan Drake takes a screen down inside LSU’s 5 yard line after Dillon Lee picks off Brandon Harris for the first time all season. Henry takes the hand off and plunges forward for about two yards. Pierschbacher hits Godchaux on his inside shoulder and spins him out of the play. I love watching this block.

3rd and 18: This was designed to be a quick screen to Ridley on the right side, so Pierschbacher’s awful block doesn’t matter. Still, LaCouture (who had just sacked Coker) just beats Piersch so quickly and easily. It is not Piersch’s best job.

3rd and 11: Pierschbacher again gets beat by a pretty swim move, this time from Godchaux. Beat right off the bat, Piersch just grabs jersey and draws the holding penalty. He does win his block on Godchaux the following play, at least.

1st and 10: Bama is feeding Henry, trying to drain that clock as much as possible. Pierschbacher pulls to the right and picks up the LB Deion Jones. However, he holds onto his jersey as Henry gets the edge; and Piersch ends up with his second holding call of the night.


2nd and 3: Playaction with Henry. Pierschbacher meets the rushing DL Joey Ivie and gets his hands on him. He shuffles with him and knocks him to the ground, and he proceeds to go down himself to keep shoving his man down. Great pass block.

2nd and 10: Ridley motions left to right and gets the handoff. Piersch immediately climbs to the second level and engages the linebacker, easily blocking him. The play wasn’t anywhere near Piersch, but he did his job and did it well. I’ve noticed him struggle once he gets to the second level at times, so it was nice to see improvement there later in the season.

3rd and 9: It’s a screen to ArDarius Stewart. Pierschbacher briefly bumps the lineman before hustling downfield. He picks up the safety Keanu Neal (who’s going to hear his name called in this draft) and takes care of the block. Stewart was already hit and on his way down, though.

1st and 10: Henry runs up the middle. Pierschbacher and Ryan Kelly double team DL Caleb Brantley; but, to his credit, he fights through both of them and pops Henry after just a 2 yard gain.

2nd and 3: Henry runs up the middle again. Pierschbacher strikes into DL Joey Ivie with some help from Kelly, who moves on to his own guy. Ivie fights out of the block and stones Henry for about a 1 yard gain.

1st and 10: Stewart motions right to left, and it’s a playaction. Pierschbacher picks up the DT in the A gap along with Kelly. However, he sees the blitzing LB Jarrad Davis; and he has the quickness to bounce out and pick him up, stopping the blitz. Great recognition and movement.


2nd and 10: Handoff to Henry. Pierschbacher gets a good initial punch on DT D.J. Reader (he’ll be drafted soon), who recovers and fights through the block. He doesn’t get the tackle, but he disrupts Henry enough to blow the play up for a gain of a very short 1 yard.

3rd and 9: The very next play is a pass to Ridley on a short crossing route. Pierschbacher starts to block Reader but passes him off to Cam Robinson as he picks up the stunt from the DE Austin Bryant. Good recognition of the stunt, and good job with the block.

1st and 10: Bama comes out throwing after Clemson’s go-ahead touchdown. Pierschbacher blocks DT Christian Wilkins, getting good hand placement. He keeps him at arm’s length at first and keeps his left arm and hand square in Wilkins’s chest. Good block. Coker hits Richard Mullaney for about 29 or so yards. Don’t watch Dominick Jackson and Alphonse Taylor on the next play. Just don’t.

1st and 10: Alabama’s bread and butter run play, the outside zone. Pierschbacher, as the backside guard, moves up to the second level and just cuts the Will (LB Ben Boulware) down at the knees and takes him out of the play. Granted, Kelly, Taylor, and Jackson all do a poor job; and Henry is stuffed after just a yard. Still, executed perfectly by Piersch.


I probably watched around ⅓ of Pierschbacher’s snaps, including the 1st, 8th, 13th and 15th games in their entirety. His strength and athleticism are evident on the tape. He seemed to get better later in the season, though the LSU game was up and down for him (two holding penalties ain’t pretty). I like his run blocking better than his pass pro right now, but he’s still solid in that area. In just his second season in college and his first year of actually playing, he successfully held down the LG spot all year and is already a very good player.

Spring practice has seen him working at center, replacing the departed Ryan Kelly. J.C. Hassenauer was Kelly’s main back-up last year, but Saban likes to get his five best linemen out there. From all reports, Piersch is intelligent enough to be the QB of the line; and he certainly has the athletic tools for it. Hassenauer may just have to wait another year if it gets one of our talented back-ups like Bradley Bozeman (who almost beat Taylor at RG) or Lester Cotton (who’s been getting lots of reps at tackle) out there.

Pierschbacher still has a lot of work to do to get to the elite level, but he absolutely can do that. I’m really excited to see if he takes another huge step forward in 2016.

This is the second in my new Film Room series. You can check out the first, Rashaan Evans, here.

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