When coaches say, “The best ability is availability,” they have a player like offensive guard Shane Lemieux in mind. From the time he walked in the door at Oregon’s huge football facility (the entrance has sixty-four 55” televisions) Lemieux has been the starter at left guard for the Ducks. He started in the 2020 Rose Bowl against Wisconsin (a 28 - 27 Ducks win) which was his 52nd straight and final start of his Oregon career.
Being ready to take the field is a mantra the Lemieux believes in. “I absolutely take a ton of pride in that streak,” he said. “It’s something that’s very important to me. When my number is called I’ve always wanted to be ready to go and never let my teammates down. I prepare in every way possible, take care of myself and do all the things necessary to stay of the field.”
After losing to Arizona State, which eliminated the Ducks for consideration from the College Football Playoff Lemieux led the way in the PAC 12 Championship Game helping the team rush for 239 yards in a 37-15 trouncing of Utah.
“That game was definitely the highlight of my career and for a lot of us,” he said. “Arizona State was a tough day for us and it was really emotional after, knowing our playoff hopes were done. But what we focused on was that everything was still in front of us. We were going to play for a Pac-12 championship, which had always been a goal of mine, and we still had a shot at the Rose Bowl.”
Lemieux graduated in 2018 with a degree in criminal law but stuck around in Eugene to work on his overall game but also to win a championship. When asked what he had specifically been working on the huge guard said, “I’ve been working a lot on my flexibility and mobility. I’m working hard to improve in the film room as well. I’m working on how I can analyze defenses better. I’m just getting a better understanding of how linebackers operate and improving my knowledge on certain defensive formations. All of this helps me do my job better. It makes my assignment more clear. You can pretty much say that I’ve spent a lot of time studying the mental aspects of the game this off season more than anything.”
Lemieux is a big boy at 6’ 4” 317 lbs. When asked which type of blocking he was better at (run or pass) he said, “I’d say in the run game. I’m more defined in that area at this point. That was kind of the point of emphasis from last year and I think it showed on tape. This past off season, I’ve definitely been focusing more on the passing game. I’m just learning how to study opponents better. Whether it’s a bull rush or a speed rusher. I’m just working to better hone in on my jump set. I’ve watched a lot of Quenton Nelson and Brandon Scherff tape. They’re both masters of the jump set. I’ve really enjoyed watching how they conduct themselves. I paid attention to how they set their balance, how they go from a run block to a pass set. It’s all been pretty interesting to watch. I’m trying to implement some of that into my game this year.”
His work paid off as Lemieux gave up only 14 pressures on 441 pass blocking plays while grading out as the second best run blocking guard in the PAC-12. He isn’t the most menacing blocker, but he gets the job done. He still has room for improvement with NFL coaching.
Here he is against a strong Auburn team. It’s not a run set, but a flanker slip screen is just like a long handoff for an interior blocker. Lemieux is #68. He is the left guard
This where the mauler idea comes from. As you can see Lemieux throws down a 6’ 3” 320 defensive tackle like a rag doll. He then hunts for more prey even though the play is now well ahead of him. Lemieux is an intense player who enjoys the physicality of the sport. This is the first play of the game so Lemieux is laying the groundwork for a war in the trenches. He is setting a tone to let the defensive line know he is here to dominate.
This next play a little later in the same game against Tyrone Truesdell, a 6’ 2” 314 lbs defensive tackle, who gets some of the same treatment.
Lemieux was going to try the same “crush you into the ground” approach as before but gets tripped up by the defensive end so both he and Truesdell hit the ground. It gets the job done. but you would like to see more drive than pressing. He slows his feet then stands too high. He needs to bend his knees then power the defender back. Better leverage will increase his power quite a bit. His defensive line coach will be sure to communicate this to him quite loudly in the NFL.
This next play is later in the same drive with Lemieux getting a quick double team on the defensive tackle then taking off to the second level to handle the inside linebacker. This is the weak point of Lemieux’s game as he usually struggles in space hitting moving targets.
This is why he stated earlier that he was working on flexibility as well as mobility. Here he does a nice job getting to then handling the linebacker. You can see the running back cuts right off his backside during a nice 13 yard run in the red zone.
This next play is some very nice one on one pass blocking by Lemieux against his new buddy Truesdell. He needs to bend his knees a little more so he can drop his hips to set a strong anchor, but in this case his strong upper body takes care of this rep.
Lemieux does a nice job of keeping himself centered by controlling his chest with his hands. This was a long time to keep a defender off the quarterback so it was a nice job. Lemieux has his limitations and could use some technical refinements, but overall he does the job. He allowed a 2.4% pressure rate on pass plays which is better than average.
Here with the time running down in the first half Auburn puts Marlon Davidson a defensive end over the nose of Lemieux in hopes of generating a better pass rush, but they get crossed up with a run.
Lemieux is able to get off on the snap quickly then get to the left shoulder of Davidson in order to get a better angle on the block. This time Lemieux is able to get better knee bend and come up under Davidson to get the leverage advantage. This makes a great difference in the quality of the block. It allows Lemieux to control the first couple seconds of the foray which is more than enough time for the running back to race by.
On this touchdown run the defensive tackle does most of the work as he is slanting the wrong way so all Lemieux has to do is just keep pushing him in that same wrong direction to make sure he is out of the play completely.
Lemieux was a 2nd team Athletic All American in 2018. He was also a 1st team Sports Illustrated All American in 2019. He was fortunate enough to play next to the best offensive lineman in all off college football. Penei Sewell was the Outland Trophy winner. He also was on 12 different All American teams. Sewell is sure to be a top five pick next year barring any injuries.
This next play against Washington was interesting in the fact it was a RPO (run pass option) yet it seems like no one told the offensive line. By the time the ball is thrown the right guard is 4 yards downfield (which is a penalty). The blocking is all wrong on the play.
Lemieux is in a double team with Sewell. They just overwhelm the defensive tackle while the tight end handles the defensive end. On an RPO the play side (on this play the right side) of the offensive line run blocks while the back side (Lemieux’s side) pass blocks. Yet everybody fires off the ball.
This next play is a blitz by the Huskies with 4 men on one side of the line and an additional pass rusher on the opposite side. This would have been a good time for an audible. Something going to the teams left, a run or dump off pass to the back would be a good idea here. You would never see a NFL team run a blitz like this. You leave yourself susceptible to a big chunk play.
The offensive line does its job as each man takes the correct rusher. Lemieux picks up the blitzing linebacker and keeps him far away from the action. The running back for some strange reason abandons the QB’s side leaving the delayed blitzer a free shot at his passer. The QB had to wait for his WR to clear coverage, which led him right into the safety. You can get a guy killed like that in the NFL.
This is the first play of the game at home against Colorado. Lemieux will struggle to hit moving targets at the 2nd level, but he does a good job at pulling. He is not the fastest guy. He barely makes it there before the running back but gets a solid block on the move.
This is not the most technically sound block, but the defender goes flying. You would have liked Lemieux to get through the hole a second faster so as not to congest the area. Still, this is a 5 yard play which is a win for the offense.
This next play is a tough reach block for Lemieux on a stretch play to the left side of the field. With the entire offense moving left it is a hard get for Lemieux reach the right shoulder of the defensive tackle.
With persistence Lemieux is able to finally get out in front of the big tackle to keep him out of the play. Making plays at full speed on the move is not Lemieux’s game, and he doesn’t really get a block on the tackle. Yet sometimes just the massive frame of a player like Lemieux is enough to wall off a defender which keeps him from making a play.
This next play is intriguing because of the finish of the block. This is just a short pull by Lemieux which is right up his wheelhouse. He gets out quickly and finds an outside linebacker trying to make a run fit. He gets into great technical position. He the gets low and comes up with his block to get maximum leverage.
The problem is the outside linebacker just stands him up. You would expect a guy who is known as a mauler to leave that player flying in the air. Unless that linebacker (who is 250 lbs) is one tough guy you would expect a little more out of that collision.
This next play from the same game is a very nice all around play by Lemieux. It is also a very nice play design. The all world offensive tackle Sewell kicks out the edge protector while Lemieux pulls out the around the the defensive tackle.
As Lemieux pulls around he outflanks the defense then sets up in blocking position with a solid base that catches multiple defenders behind the play. The running back races through the gaping hole in the defense then is one on one with the safety. A more prolific back probably would have scored ,but this still was a nice gain.
This last play is a pull then kick out block by Lemieux that is done on time with great results. Lemieux is still a work in progress on his mobility, but like he said in the beginning he is working to get better.
This time (unlike earlier) Lemieux gets out of the blocks quickly and moves through the hole. He blasts the defender back as the running back cuts off his backside. This is just how it’s drawn up in the playbook. The result when you get a speedy back out in the open on a well-blocked play is a touchdown. It doesn’t make a difference whether it’s against the 7th ranked team in the country (like here) or a lower level school.
Shane Lemieux is a strong, big guard with a mean streak who likes to dominate at the point of attack. He is a big kid, but I withhold my final grade on him until after the Combine. I like his tape, but you need to hit certain benchmarks to compete in the NFL.
I want to see his length, which is very important to interior offensive linemen. I want to see his agility drills so I can understand his strengths and weaknesses. I know he is working hard right now. He said so himself.
“That training starts as soon as I’m done with the bowl game,” he said of the preparation process. “There’s not even a day off because you know other guys are working that hard.”
I expect to see a leaner, quicker player at the =Combine. He is a tough kid so I know he will be at the top of his game.
Shane Lemieux is a big, tough guard who can be a quality starter with some fine tuning. He is better in a power/gap system rather than a zone scheme although he can be useful in either system. He has great character and is a strong positive influence in his locker room.
I have an incomplete grade on Lemieux, I need physical measurements and agility times. The Combine will be a great source of information on him.
I currently grade Lemieux as a high 4th or low 3rd round selection. I assure you he will go much higher than that with so many teams in desperate need of offensive line help.
I like this kid who may be available with the first pick in the 3rd round. If so, he could be a solid selection as a possible long term starter.
What do you think?