Armchair Analysis: O-Line

armchair-quarterbackBy: Harvey Birdman

To listen to OL Coach, Jeff Grimes, one would think the depth problems that seemingly have a stranglehold on the 09′ Tigers, is alive and well with this unit.  That could very well be from the standpoint of finding suitable backups to the apparent #1’s across the front.  However, from a sheer numbers perspective, this unit appears to be in a little better shape than some.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately from our opponent’s view, the caliber of this year’s O-line is judged by many based on the debacle that was the 2008 Auburn Football Tigers.  Not much seems to be expected from this bunch, but keep in mind a couple of key differences when gauging expectations.  The first is a new staff and obvious change from what had become the dreaded Nall-ball.

Next, one of Tony Franklin’s first priorities for the installation of his spread offense, was to have his linemen trim down considerably in order to to be more mobile and in addition, be able to consistently and uniformly raise up from their stances to stare at the sidelines like a pack of prarie dogs watching an approaching coyote.  Even though the new offense is another wide open version of the ever popular spread, the strategy has been to sit the guys back down at the training table and put away the groceries, early and often.  One need only look at the tackles, Lee Ziemba and Andrew McCain, to understand the new direction.  Standing at 6’8″ and 6’6″ respectively, both gentlemen tip the scales around 310 lbs. making them more the prototypical college tackles.

Ryan Pugh is back full time to his natural position of center, which is the position he was recruited out of high school to play…and a more natural playing weight of 290.  He will be flanked by last year’s starter, Byron Isom, and possibly the veteran, Mike Berry or one of the newcomers, John Sullen or Jorell Bostrom, who have both been getting good reps while Isom and Berry nurse nagging injuries.  For short yardage and goal line situations, the line should be bolstered by true freshman tight end, Phillip Schvontzenschtupel, who can fire off the edge with 265 lbs.

The first wave should look like:

Lee Ziemba 6’8″ 310

Byron Isom 6’3″ 291

Ryan Pugh 6’4″ 290

Mike Berry 6’3″ 311

Andrew McCain 6’6″ 310

As stated earlier, the numbers are there; however, Coach Grimes has acknowledged few if any reserves as being ready for prime time.  Running back-up at center in the recent scrimmage was veteran Bart Eddins, who should be ready at long last to step into the rotation.  Former tight end, Vance Smith, has made a change to the O-line and an apparent commitment to beef up and contribute to this unit.  Jared Cooper is in his 3rd year and like Eddins, should be at a point in his career where he’s pushing for playing time.  Both have the size and experience and hopefully, both are doing what it takes to step up and get in the rotation.  Much publicized FSU transfer, Aubrey Phillips at 6’5″ 330, remains sidelined with an undisclosed health issue and would most likely redshirt even if it resolves in the near future. 

The back up roles will most likely be played by:

Bart Eddins 6’4″ 297

Vance Smith 6’2″ 282

John Sullen 6’6″ 325

Jorell Bostrom 6’3″ 362

Jared Cooper 6’4″ 295

A.J. Greene 6’5″ 282

Darrell Roseman 6’4″ 289

I would expect a redshirt for Aubrey Phillips and true freshman Andre Harris at 6’3″ 325.  Hopefully, Coach Grimes has been busy poor-mouthing the backups in order to get them motivated for playing time.  The numbers and the size are there.  But, as long as the injury bug stays away from this unit, that won’t be a worry and the O-line should be one of the better groups in the conference.

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