Incoming graduate transfer Coy Cronk, 6’5” 315 pounds, comes to Iowa from Indiana after starting 40 games at left tackle. His senior season was cut short following a lower-leg injury in the fourth game of the season. Following the loss of junior right tackle Tristan Wirfs to the NFL Draft, many expect Cronk to flip sides and take over at right tackle for Iowa in 2020.
In the third game of the 2019 season, Indiana faced Ohio State. Indiana struggled, as did many teams, against Ohio State’s top ranked defense, but we will dive into Cronk’s performance against some of the best in the nation.
Tested by Chase Young
Early in the game, Cronk (#54) finds himself across All-American Chase Young quite a few times. Both players win and lose a few battles, but Cronk holds up nicely and does not allow Young to get to his quarterback. The key for Cronk was getting his hands on Young first to try to mitigate his tremendous athleticism.
Cronk will be positioned at left tackle for this game and at the top of the screen to start. He has a tight end and tight split receiver to his side. There is also another receiver who is coming in motion to the left as well. Because of this, the only option for Young is to go wide. In this situation, Cronk does a nice job of staying over his pads and getting Young upfield and beyond the quarterback. He gets his hands on the inside shoulder keeping Young from being able to come back inside.
On the following play, 3rd and 13, Indiana is in a passing situation. Cronk is again lined up with Young and is without any scheme protection. This time, Cronk lets Young get the first punch and allows him to get his hands inside of his own. This leads to Young being able to push Cronk backwards and off balance. He is able to reset enough to keep the quarterback clean, but pressure from both sides forces an early and off target pass.
Once again Cronk is facing Young without any additional help. He again gives up his inside shoulder to Young and is forced to work hard to keep Young from gaining a significant advantage. Even though he is in a tough spot and gives up the initial hand placement, I like how he keeps his balance and keeps his feet moving. By doing this he forces Young deep enough to allow the pass to get off just in time.
These are difficult situations to go against Young without any help, but in Iowa’s scheme they are going to ask Cronk to consistently win one-on-one battles as well.
Tight End Help
Given an inline tight end, something he will frequently have at Iowa, Cronk is able to get the first punch and win early. His hand placement is a little wide on the shoulders, but he is able to keep Young from being able to attack quickly.
Having to face Chase Young without help and with an interior blitz is never an easy proposition. As we have looked at on previous plays, Cronk again struggles a little with initial hand placement, but his balance and feet keep him at an advantage. Because his hands placement started too high, Young was able to slap them away. Cronk doesn’t panic and is able to get both hands back on the defender. He keeps his shoulders square to Young and pushes him beyond the pocket. He also shows great awareness as he’s able to get a quick hit on the pursuing linebacker once the quarterback breaks from the pocket.
Change in Assignment
On the following drive, Young gets moved to the other side of the defensive line and Cronk is now facing #11 Tyreke Smith. The play results in a sack for Young, but Cronk does an excellent job on Smith. His footwork stays really clean as Smith tries to fake outside and move back inside. Cronk shows his strength doing his best Marshal Yanda impersonation, to reset and standup the pass rusher. On the reset, he’s able to regain inside hand position and has a really impressive rep.
The next clips will show three plays with Cronk again facing the Ohio State defensive end without any additional blocking help. While his sets are not perfect, he’s able to consistently keep his defender off of the quarterback in this one-on-one situations. He frequently relies on great balance and his feet to push rushers deep beyond the pocket. His hand placement will need to improve, but he has held up against some of the preimer players and athletes in the Big Ten.
A change in run blocking
The biggest change for Cronk will likely be the run game concepts. Because of the score, Indiana was not in a position to hand off very much in this game, but when they did, it wasn’t the traditional I or shingleback formations that Iowa fans are accustomed to seeing from the Hawkeye offense.
The Indiana scheme often has Cronk crashing inside on run plays and chasing linebackers instead of defensive lineman. Again, he shows great feet and is able to square the linebacker. While Iowa did have some success with the shot gun run game using Tyler Goodson in 2019, it will likely not be a staple of the Iowa offense in 2020.
Coy Cronk brings size and experience to the Iowa offensive line and is likely a plug-and-place guy for the Hawkeyes. He will be wearing #51 next season at Iowa.
Do you think he fills in at tackle or slides inside to fortify one of the guard spots?