Game analysis: Oklahoma State
Nate Solder is an intriguing physical specimen, but he still has a lot of room to grow if he is really only 305-310 pounds at 6’9”. He needs to get a lot stronger in his lower body so he can anchor better against bull rushes, and so he can get a more significant push in the run game. However, he has impressive mobility from what I can tell and looks like a TE running around in open space. He is a good combo-blocker, and moves with good fluidity from the double team to the next level to engage a linebacker. He takes away the speed rush easily because he is an athletic guy and gets out of his stance quickly on a pretty regular basis (though sometimes he will be slow out of it, I can’t say I’m sure why). His footwork looks better than it did when I saw him against Texas earlier this year, but he still worries too much about the speed rush sometimes and opens his hips up too early, making him vulnerable to an inside counter move. I have seen this before from guys who are slower and less athletic, but they usually open their hips up too early to attempt to compensate for their lack of lateral agility. Solder doesn’t have that issue, so it is just something he needs to be coached up on and drilled on as far as I can tell.
One thing that I think Solder needs to work on is his hand usage. I saw some signs of improvement between the Texas game and the Oklahoma State game I just watched, but he still has issues sustaining blocks sometimes, though he looked much better in this regard when it came to pass blocking in this game. Part of that probably has to do with Texas having much better pass rushers than Oklahoma State, but Solder did his job and neutralized the man he went up against more times than not in this game, so that’s what matters. Another thing that looked better, even though he still needs work on it, was his footwork. Against Texas I noticed that he was back-pedaling a lot to take away the edge in pass protection, but in this game he was using his kick slide well and, aside from opening his hips prematurely, he took away the corner with better fundamentals. He is a natural knee bender it looks like, and it didn’t look like he was bending at the waist in this game from what I could tell. He did a decent job of anchoring against the bull rush, but he needs to get much stronger in his lower body or he will get walked into the quarterback on a regular basis when he gets to the next level, especially when he will have trouble winning the leverage battle since he is 6’9”.
Overall, I liked what I saw from Solder in this game. Is he an elite prospect? Not in my opinion. Is he well polished? No, not yet. Does he have a lot of potential? Absolutely. A 6’9”, 305 pound man who can move like he does is incredibly rare, and he looked more fundamentally sound in this game than when I saw him before. I will absolutely watch him two, three or maybe four times next season, and I hope to see better footwork, a stronger lower body, better hand usage to sustain blocks and hopefully he won’t open his hips prematurely as often as he did both times I saw him. If he can work on those flaws he will be a much more polished prospect, which will only help his stock. I am excited to see how he does next year, because a guy with his combination of size and athletic ability is very rare for the position, and I think he could be a perfect fit in a zone blocking scheme for that reason.
Hopefully you enjoyed this read, and keep an eye out for Solder next year. He’s hard to miss on the left side of Colorado’s offensive line!
Thanks for reading!