Monday, July 26, 2010
Preseason position reviews: offensive line
By Ted Miller
It's hard to imagine too many conferences will be as experienced on the offensive line as the Pac-10 in 2010. One would think that's a good thing. A really good thing.
Eight teams welcome back four or more starters. Only Arizona State, with one full-time and one part-time starter back, and USC, with three starters returning, have more than one void to fill.
This is a much different situation than last year, when the position was a huge question for most conference teams (other than USC, which, nonetheless, dramatically underachieved last fall).
Of course, returning starters aren't everything: Both UCLA and Washington State welcome back four starters, but both units probably still keep their fans up at night because of the poor production in 2009. And both were experienced units heading into last fall.
So where do things stand?
- Oregon: The Ducks not only welcome back all five starters, they welcome back all 10 members of their 2009 two-deep.
- Stanford: The Cardinal have four starters back from what might have been the best offensive line in the Pac-10 last year.
- Arizona: The Wildcats have four starters back and a fifth lineman, Phillip Garcia, who started two games last year.
- Oregon State: Four starters are back and the re-emergence of oft-injured tackle Wilder McAndrews could bolster depth.
- California: Four starters are back from a talented line that underachieved in 2009 -- see 31 sacks surrendered.
- USC: Three starters are back and all three have NFL futures. Beyond them, though, there's a lack of experience and depth.
- Washington: Four starters are back from a unit that struggled at times in 2009. Depth also is a question.
- UCLA: Four starters are back, but Nik Abele, projected to fill the void at LT, was forced to retire due to neck problems. Bruins ranked ninth in rushing and gave up 29 sacks in '09.
- Washington State: Four starters are back, and JC transfers should help, but Cougars couldn't block anyone last year.
- Arizona State: The Sun Devils lost four starters from a crew that ranked eighth in rushing and gave up 27 sacks. Both projected starting tackles haven't played a down of college football.