Photo courtesy of Dean Shore
With the news coming out of campus about Daniel Blitch leaving the Wake Forest football team, I figured that I better take a look at our offensive line and see who we have where and how that will all play out. What follows is a combination of what I've observed, read, heard or am just speculating on in terms of what Deacon fans can expect from the O-Line this year.
That being said, there is a pretty good chance that the following analysis (especially my guesses at the first and second teams) could be off base by the time the season starts.
Either way, I hope to develop a clearer picture for everybody because the offensive line can be hard to know who plays where and at what position! If at the end an error is obvious, please let me know, and I'll try to fix it ASAP.
Without further ado, just skip through the jump to gain some insight on the Wake Forest offensive line for this year!
First of all, based on the 2012 Wake Forest Football Roster that I handily obtained at the first football practice on Monday night, we have 19 eligible offensive lineman on our team. Given the fact that Jim Grobe red-shirts nearly every single freshman, that would bump us down to just 16 players total (Joel Suggs, Will Smith, and Tyler Hayworth are true freshmen).
Also notable at this point is the uncertainty surrounding Ramon Booi and his recurring knee problems that could force him to miss significant time as well (down to 15).
Dylan Heartsill is also listed on the roster, and recently it was announced that his football career was like over (down to 12).
Soooo, with the Blitch departure that leaves us with 11 players to really work with right now, and given the lack of experience from a handful of them it is not as many as the coaching staff would like (obviously). Based on the recent comments by Dan Collins that he presumably got from talking with the staff, Tyler Hayworth at 6'4, 305 pounds is the freshman most likely to see time this year. At this juncture, we will focus on the ten upperclassmen that we know will be working to see the field this year, and they are by postioning (their games played and career starts are listed to the right of their name):
R-So Antonio Ford (6-4, 310) 4, 0 (primary backup left guard last season)
R-Fr Dylan Intemann (6-5, 300) 0, 0
R-So Colin Summers (6-5, 315) 12, 0 (primary backup right guard last season)
R-Sr Gabe Irby (6-4, 315) 7, 0
*potentially freshman Tyler Hayworth (6-4, 305)*
R-Jr Whit Barnes (6-4, 290) 1, 0
R-Sr Garrick Williams (6-4, 310) 20, 15 (center last year)
R-Fr Hunter Goodwin (6-6, 310) 0, 0
R-Fr Cody Preble (6-5, 295) 0, 0
R-Jr Steven Chase (6-7, 305) 23, 3 (primary backup at left tackle)
R-Jr Frank Souza (6-4, 310) 0, 0 (has played 28 games and started 3 on defense)
R-Jr Devin Bolling (6-5, 300) 2, 0
For those of you keeping track at home that is only two players on our entire offensive line who have ever started a game. Overall, that adds up to 69 games played, and just 18 starts from this group. Williams and Chase account for 62 percent of all games played and 100 percent of games started. Obviously, this is a pretty big problem because against Liberty, we will be trotting out at least 3/5 guys who have not ever started a collegiate game before. This number could be four because who knows whether or not Chase will work his way back to starter by the time the season opens. I'm guessing that he will be there, but it's still up in the air from what I can discern.
Now lets take a look at the projected starting lineup. This comes from Dan Collins blog, as well as what I observed at the first couple of practices:
Projected Starting Lineup
LT- Steven Chase
LG- Antonio Ford
C- Garrick Williams
RG- Frank Souza
RT- Colin Summers*
*Keep in mind that since Tanner Price is left-handed, Summers will be tasked with protecting his blind side as opposed to the left tackle who would usually do it.
This is actually one of the most "experienced" lineups that we could trot out there (minus Souza who has never taken a snap in college on the offensive side of the football) with 59 games played (and 43 starts) between them.
After the past couple of years experimenting with dropping weight to produce a quicker offensive lineman prototype (Wake Forest dropped 15 lbs per starter from 2010 to 2011 alone), the Deacs have seemingly gone back to the bigger guys up front. These projected starters would weigh in at 310 pounds on average (305, 310, 310, 310, 315 respectively), which would place them in a tie for 16th in 2011 for the heaviest lines in the NCAA (with Lousiana Tech and Western Michigan).
While size of the line doesn't always matter, only 6 of the top 20 teams last year were below the average offensive line weight of 302.8 pounds. We will likely be over that no matter who we put out there since only 2 or 3 of our guys are under 300 (and two of them are freshmen).
With the leadership and durability of Garrick Williams, who ranked second on the offensive line last year with 710 snaps on the year (54.6 per game), the hope is that these guys will form a cohesive unit that will grow together this year, as well as into the next 2-3 years.
Now let's take a look at the less certain second-string:
LT- Devin Bolling
LG- Cody Preble
C- Gabe Irby
RG- Hunter Goodwin/Whit Barnes
RT- Dylan Intemann
The backup right guard spot is the one that is up for grabs now, and it could really be anybody's spot from what I've seen. From what I've heard and seen, I expect Cody Preble to push the starting lineup for entry into it, and along with Intemann be a critical guy off of the bench.
Last year was really a rotation of just six guys on the offensive line, which is part of the reason we have such a dearth of experience now. I bet Irby sees a fair amount of snaps earlier in the season, but Preble, Intemann and Bolling will eventually take those snaps as the year goes on. I think we wind up going with a predominantly seven man rotation barring any more injuries.
If Ramon Booi can in fact come back healthy, then I think he could be a good bet to slide into one of those backup spots as well. I heard good things about him this spring and summer, and it's a bummer to hear that he can't get off the sideline because of his knee.
All things considered, I hope this cleared up things a bit. There is a ton of football to be played in practice before the first game of the year so be on the lookout from Blogger So Dear and Dan Collins for any additional information. As for now, all we can do is hope and pray for no more injuries and departures. The offensive line is the crucial part to our success this year given the talent at other positions, and I think Coach Himebauch will get the best out of the guys or they won't be on the team (that's my guess on what happened to Daniel Blitch).
Questions/comments/concerns are always welcome and I hope to have a bit of an update over the next week from attending practices and observing closer!