Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Season Preview Day 2: Offensive line

Well today I thought I would get the uncertainty out of the way first so we can enjoy the talent at wide receiver and tight end later. Offensive line is a position that hasn't been steady over the past three years. This year we have quite the array of talent but the big question mark is can we create a consistent group of 5 out of all the talent.

Let's start from left to right with the starter at left tackle Jason Pinkston. We saw flashes of Pinkston's talent last year in the first three games of the season before his shoulder injury. He is back and has worked his way back into the good graces of the coaching staff. Pinkston has the size and footwork to become a great player and he will be a solid blindside protector of Stull. Backing him up is senior Chase Clowser who has proven to be a serviceable backup whenever he has been called upon.

At left guard we have the most experienced starter on the line in CJ Davis. He has been a sturdy and consistent performer, there will be absolutely no problems with Davis. Backing up CJ Davis on the depth chart is Dom Williams but I wouldn't expect Davis to miss a start.

The junior college transfer Robb Hauser has come out in camp and provided stability at the center position. Center has been a position that we haven't seen solid play at in years. Hopefully, Hauser will continue his good play and give us two years to find a long term option at this position. Backing up Hauser are two unknown quantities in Wayne Jones and Alex Karabin. If there is one position we can't afford an injury it is center. Hauser goes down there could be a crisis and I would expect to see the entire line shifted around.

Right guard is being taken over by John Malecki who played on the defense last year and is flat out a football player. The main adjective used to describe his play is nasty and you could see his impact on the game as a defensive tackle next year. Malecki has tons of talent and as he gets more used to the position he will become a top level guard. In a year I could see Malecki becoming a All Big East level performer. Backing up Malecki on the depth chart is Chris Jacobsen who is a highly touted player coming off a season ending injury last year. Jacobsen will be a starter next year and I would expect if somebody on the interior of the line goes down he could easily slot into the lineup.

Now for the bad news or the unknown news. The starter at right tackle is going to be Joe Thomas, for now. Thomas had a down season last year to say the least and hasn't seperated himself in camp. His job security is almost non-existent and he is being pushed by a high school All-American in Lucas Nix. Nix has come into camp and has earned a chance to push Thomas for the starting spot. Coach Wannstedt has stated in many places that Nix is going to get playing time and I think his talent will overcome Thomas. This position needs to be figured out by the Iowa game and I think the final conclusion to this situation is Nix becoming the starter. A redshirt would perhaps be the ideal situation for Nix in order to get more work in the weight room but the state of the right tackle situation won't really allow that.

The offensive line appears to be in the best situation that it has been in for a few seasons except for the whole at right tackle. Optomistically, we have two games to figure out what to do with that position and one of the players in the running for that position is the most talented offensive line recruit we have had in years. Pessimistically, we saw what happened with this position last year and how it continued to be a problem. If we can figure out the right tackle position and the other starters play consistently we can have a great offensive line, I think the final product will be much better than last's years.

No comments: