The offensive line is a group that improved last season under first year coach Tony Wise. Coming into to spring we only have to replace one starter (CJ Davis). Where the intrigue lies is how the highly regarded Lucas Nix and Chris Jacobson fit in. Nix has been dangled in front of the fanbase as a player who was on the verge of breaking into the starting line-up at tackle but played only a handful of plays as a freshman. Jacobson took a redshirt year due to injury as a freshman and spent last year backing up CJ Davis.
Since two year starter at left tackle Jason Pinkston is sitting out spring practice to rest his injured shoulder Lucas Nix gets a shot to play with the starters. Next to Nix will be Chris Jacobson getting the first shot to win the left guard position. At center Robb Houser is back from injury and will be a consistent performer. The right side of the line remains unchanged with John Malecki playing guard and Joe Thomas playing right tackle. I thought Malecki was fantastic as a run blocker last year as a first year offensive lineman. Joe Thomas has been a whipping boy for the fanbase in the past but I thought he was serviceable.
Handicapping the line position battles is seemingly very easy if you have ever seen a Wannstedt camp. The upper classmen are going to be the bookend tackles come the fall, Pinkston at LT and Thomas at RT. Nix needs to come out and make an impact during spring to make this a difficult decision for the coaching staff to make. Wannstedt values experience moreso than anything else in these situations as seen with Bachman and Clowser playing in the Sun Bowl. I think Jacobson has the LG job to lose just due to the fact that we have no upper classmen options at guard. Jacobson has the talent and has been around the program long enough to expect him to contribute in a big way this season.
The offensive line could be a big strength this season if the right personnel decisions are made and the jobs are won on the practice field. Nix needs to play a big role this season and the coaching staff needs to give him a chance to contribute. Tony Wise did a good job last season for the majority of the games and has made an impact on the development of some players.