Dan Lanning praises uncommon ability of Oregon OL Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu
If Oregon’s football team is splitting up into smaller teams for pickup basketball, Dan Lanning is making sure Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu is on his team.
The Oregon head coach joked that Aumavae-Laulu would be a five-foul guy and he might not be able to shoot all that well, but the combination of strength and uncommon athleticism would make him a force.
It certainly does on the football field.
“You watch film of certain guys and you’re like, ‘Oh.’ Sala is one of those guys,” Lanning told reporters on Wednesday. “When you watch his film you’re like ‘Oh.’ Like, he can do some things that you weren’t meant to do at that size. His athleticism in space, if we play pickup basketball tomorrow, I don’t know if he can shoot but I’d put him on my team. The way he moves his feet at his size size, he’d probably bang people out in the paint, probably a five-foul guy, I would guess, but if we’re playing half-court, I want Sala on my team. He takes up space. He’s good in space. He’s really done a good job for us this year.”
Today Dan Lanning was asked what's allowed Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu to play the way he has this year.
"Sala's one of those guys who you watch his film you're like 'oh', he can do some things that you weren't meant to do at that size."
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— Max Torres (@mtorressports) October 26, 2022
The 6-foot-6 super senior has been an important piece of an impressive Oregon offensive line so far this season. A Hilo, Hawaii native, Aumavae-Laulu has blossomed into a reliable option at tackle. He started 10 times in 14 appearances a year ago, and this year has posted the seventh-best pass blocking grade of any Pac-12 offensive lineman and the best of any tackle.
In nearly 250 snaps as a pass-blocker, he has yet to allow a single hit on quarterback Bo Nix. Not sack — Oregon has only given up one of those all year — but hit. His man, whoever it might be, hasn’t touched his quarterback once.
In general, Oregon’s strength up front has as much to do with its six-game winning streak as anything. The Ducks have been balanced and efficient on offense, made possible by a line that is dominating week in and week out.
“Coach (Adrian) Klemm’s experience at the next level I think is special,” said Lanning when asked what the first-year Duck line coach has done to help take a veteran unit to the next level. “Every week I feel like you see these guys, just like we talked about as a team, find a weakness and improve on a weakness.
“There’s some things we really wanted to improve. We come out here Monday and Tuesday and I see (the offensive line) doing drill-specific work on the things we wanted to attack and I think that shows up week in and week out with each one of our position coaches.”
No. 8 Oregon (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12) faces Cal (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12) Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PT on FS1.