I've said many times in many conversations over the last couple of months that this is the most uncertain I can remember feeling about an upcoming Dawgs season since...maybe 1996? Not to say that I was always RIGHT about how the upcoming season was going to go, but usually by now I have a pretty solid grasp on my opinion as to what this team will be. Not this year. This team could go 6-6 or 12-0 and I would be almost equally unsurprised.
BUT...as we get closer, there is one facet of this team that gives me cause for great optimism. And, as luck would have it, it also happens to be a CRUCIAL aspect to any team's failure or success:
Our offensive line has a chance to be TREMENDOUS.
Here is what I wrote about it back during Spring practice. The names in bold are the projected starters, although I may be ready to change some of those (see below).
Offensive line: Clint Boling, Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones, Chris Davis, Trinton Sturdivant, Vince Vance,Josh Davis, Justin Anderson, Tanner Strickland, Ben Harden, AJ Harmon, Jonathan Owens, Kevin Perez, Dallas Lee, Chris Burnette*, Austin Long*
OUTLOOK: Yeah, that's right. SIXTEEN offensive linemen on the Opening Day roster. Kudos to the coaching staff for taking a position that seemed to be a liability a couple of years ago and changing it into what I think may be the strength of the team this year. If we can ever keep this group even relatively healthy, then the possible question marks at QB and running back all of a sudden look a lot more promising.
Boling is the MVP of this group, in my opinion. He has been a do-everything guy...he's played every position except center (at least I don't THINK he's played center), and has played admirably everywhere we've put him. If we can ever put him somewhere and leave him (RT is my guess as to where he ends up), there is no telling what his potential can be.The rest are an impressive mix of size, athleticism, and nastiness.
Oh, and one more thing...of that group, only Vince Vance is a Senior, and only two of my projected starters (Boling and C. Davis) are Juniors...everybody else has at least two more years after this one. So you might assume that they are too young...except that with the injury problems we have had over the last couple of years, there is a LOT of experience in those younger groups as well.
Now, when I wrote that I was thinking the lineup would look something like this:
LT - Sturdivant
LG - C. Davis
C - Jones
RG - Glenn
RT - Boling
However, now that the G-Day game has come and gone, and just based on some of what I am reading, I'm thinking it may look something like this:
LT - Sturdivant
LG - Glenn/Boling
C - Jones
RG - Boling/Glenn
RT - J. Anderson
Not only will I take THAT group and whip yours 9 times out of 10, but I still have:
- AJ Harmon, J. Davis, C. Davis, Vance, Strickland, and Harden on the bench...I believe all of them except Harmon have started at some point.
- Owens, who redshirted last year.
- Dallas Lee, who I expect to see the field this year.
- Burnette and Long, both of whom I expect to redshirt, but will still be adding depth during practice.
- And Kevin Perez, who...adds depth, I guess.
See, now don't you feel better? I know I do...not saying I'm leaning towards 12-0 or anything, but with an OL like that there should be a lot less growing pains than there could be otherwise.