Posted: 10:18 a.m. Tuesday, July 16, 2013
By Metal Building Dawg
We're going through the SEC, MSU's schedule, then position by position on State's roster until we reach the start of the 2013 football season.
In the SEC, it's all about the war in the trenches. Here's a look at how the offensive line's rank:
1. Alabama: Junior left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and senior right guard Anthony Steen are both preseason All-SEC first-teamers and possible All-Americans. Sophomore center Ryan Kelly was a big-time recruit and made the All-SEC freshman team last season. After losing three offensive linemen to the NFL draft, the Crimson Tide need to fill holes at left guard and right tackle, but let's be serious here. Alabama doesn't rebuild, they reload.
2. Tennessee: It's strange to see the Vols ranked this high at any position considering the team's performance last season, but this a talented and experienced group. Antonio Richardson and Ja'Wuan James are massive and form the best tackle duo in the SEC and maybe the country. Center James Stone and guard Zach Fulton are on pretty much everyone's All-SEC lists as well.
3. Georgia: Depth, depth and more depth.Five starters are back on the O-line for a team that was oh-so close to winning the SEC title and playing for a national championship last season. The team returns its top three reserves too. Senior guard Chris Burnette, the leader of the group, was 2nd-team All-SEC last season.
4.Texas A&M;:Jake Matthews could have been a first round pick in the NFL draft, but the 2012 first-team All-SEC tackle decided to return to College Station. A decision that pleased Johnny Manziel, I'm sure. However, the Aggies will have some adjustments to get used to as Matthews will move from right tackle to left tackle, and junior Chris Ogbuehi moves from guard to right tackle.
5. LSU: The Fightin' Tigers boast possibly the biggest line in the SEC. Junior La'el Collins (6'5 320 lbs.) moves over to left tackle where he could be an All-American. Senior guard Josh Williford (6'7 332 lbs.) is a giant of a man and has been a starter since his freshman season. It's hard to miss right tackle Vadal Alexander as well. As a freshman last season, Alexander (6'6 350 lbs.) started nine games and had his best game of the year against Alabama with 5.5 knockdowns in 84 snaps.
6. Mississippi State: Senior guard Gabe Jackson leads a group of four returning starters for the Bulldogs. Jackson is a preseason All-SEC first team pick and should see his name on All-American lists at the end of the season. Center Dillon Day was named to the Rimmington Award watch list and plays with a mean streak you love to see in offensive linemen. Tackles Charles Siddoway and Blaine Clausell are solid veterans on the edge, and sophomore Justin Malone will step into the right guard spot as a full-time starter this season.
7. South Carolina: Four starters return for the Gamecocks, including junior guard A.J. Cann who is the team's most experienced player 25 career starts. Sophomore right tackle Brandon Shell was a freshman All-American last season and they are expecting a big year from him in 2013. South Carolina must improve their pass protection as they allowed 38 sacks in 2012 (13th in the SEC).
8. Florida: Just like South Carolina this group wasn't very good at protecting the quarterback in 2012. The Gators allowed a league-high 39 sacks and finished 12th in conference in total offense. However, three starters return and one of them is former five-star recruit and 2012 Freshman All-American left tackle D.J. Humphries. His development alone should eliminate most of the Gators pass-blocking issues.
9. Ole Miss: The Rebels' deserve the praise they are getting for their 2013 signing class, particularly on the offensive line. According to the 247Composite rankings, they signed the #1 and #8 OT prospects in the country (Larry Tunsil and Austin Golson). Both of those guys will battle for playing time, but it won't be easily won. Ole Miss returns four starters and the back-ups are all experienced as well.
10. Auburn: In what seems to be a common theme in the SEC, the Tigers return four starters on the offensive line. Although, it's tough to say if this group is any good considering how anemic the Tigers' offense was last season. 2012 conference stats: last in total offense, third-down conversions, and 12th in sacks allowed.Reese Dismukes is an All-SEC type player, and I suspect Gus Malzahn's offense will give the entire line a better chance to be successful.
11. Vanderbilt: Wesley Johnson was recently named to the watch list for the 2013 Outland Trophy and might be the best blocker in the SEC. He has, shockingly, never been called for a holding penalty and didn't allow a sack last season. Another important member of this unit is guard Jake Bernstein who came on strong at the end of last season and was shared the team's offensive player of the game award for his performance against NC State in the Music City Bowl.
12. Arkansas: Arkansas was last in the conference in rushing offense in 2012, but that's partly due to the fact that they ran the ball the least in the conference. Still, this group is now making a difficult transition from a pass-heavy offense to a run-dominated offense under new coach Bret Bielema. Center Travis Swanson is really good, but this unit will struggle mightily this season.
13. Kentucky: TackleDarrian Miller and guard Zach West form a nice left side of the line, but after that it's pretty thin for the Wildcats.
14. Missouri: After driving on endless stretches of Missouri roads on the way to the College World Series this summer, I am not ready to address anything related to Missouri. Sorry, the Tigers get this ranking by default.
Check back tomorrow as we rank the SEC's defensive line units.