Monday, August 27, 2007

Lead Up To The Kickoff: Day 2

First day of classes and I have a six hour break, welcome to the world of being a lazy super senior. So I thought I would focus our next preview for Saturday on the trenches, offensive and defensive line. This has been an area of concern for Panther fans over the past few years. News coming out of camp has led most to some optimism of the much maligned line play of the Wannstedt era.

Starting on the offensive line this group is going to have to improve from last year. Palko isn't under center anymore its going to be an untested upper-classmen in Stull or a true freshman in Bostick(*fingers crossed*). Protecting the quarterback has to be the number one priority. The lynchpin of this offensive is going to be Jeff Otah. Otah has an NFL body and by NFL body I mean is built similar to a brick wall but don't let his size fool you the guy can move a little. He showed flashes of greatness last year while starting every single game. His counterpart on the other side is Jason Pinkston. Got a ton of playing time as a true freshman and really played consistent football. The tackle position is really a strength of the line, which hopefully means something for our pass protection.

The interior of the line is going to be CJ Davis at one guard and at the other Joe Thomas. Both of these guys got a lot of playing time last year and played well. Thomas is the guy to look for out of the two. He played extremely well as a true freshman and will need to continue this year. Shady in camp has looked very good running the ball inside the tackles and I have to think they will continue to push the ball up the middle. Chris Vangas is the starter at center, he played all 12 games last year. What really jumps out about this offensive line is the experience and size. No player is under 300 pounds and all have played this level of football. Depth is a concern with the loss of freshman Chris Jacobsen, not a ton of experience so the first team is going to need to stay healthy.

Now to the real exciting development in camp..FOLKS WE HAVE A DEFENSIVE LINE THAT WILL GET PENETRATION. Our offensive as stated above is not bad and all reports are that the defensive line is blowing them up. The star of this year's camp on the line has been defensive tackle Gus Mustakas. What the means for the pass rush is the quarterback is going to get a hand in his face. At the other defensive tackle spot its still up for grabs with Rashad Duncan and John Malecki. Great to see competition for the spot and Wannstedt looking for reliable performance. On the outside I'm looking for senior Joe Clermond to come out with something to prove. The other end is going probably be Chris McKillop. Perhaps, we will see some contributions from highly rated freshman Tommie Duhart later in the series. Speed is something that this defensive line possesses that we are going to need against the big guns of the Big East. Hopefully the can hold up to big offensive lines.

I'm wildly optimistic about the line on both sides of the ball. I see this as an asset and I think with the weapons we have behind the lines on both sides, the line play is crucial to success. For the offense open the holes and for the love of god give the quarterback time. On defense, pressure and keep blockers off our playmaking linebackers and secondary.

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