Only two starters return from the nation’s second ranked rushing attack a season ago, and only redshirt freshmen on the roster to fill in those holes.My response is in the comments but I'll go ahead and throw it up here:
OL concerns may be a bit overstated. Two full time starters in Austin Barrick and Sean Bedford return. Phil Smith started 4 games last year and played in 13 and he’s competing for a starting spot. Nick Claytor played in 12 games last season and Omoregie Uzzi played in 13. Those 5 starters have legitimate experience in Paul Johnson’s offense. Plus, we have Nick McRae and Zach Krish competing for starting roles who saw game action last season as well. The OL should be one of our deepest and most athletic since CPJ’s been at Tech.However, I may have been giving our OL too much credit when you compare the returning experience to previous years. Check out the data after the jump...
When you're trying to objectively evaluate offensive linemen, it's relatively tough. They don't really have statistics besides sacks allowed, pancakes, starts, and games played. Even then sacks allowed and pancakes aren't the greatest stats 'cause there are so many factors and variables in a pass play that could lead to a sack and pancakes aren't really kept by college statistic services.
So I'm only really looking at returning experience. Returning starters are the key. A starter gets a majority of the meaningful reps in a game and is facing the first team defense. From 2006-2010, we've seen a steady drop in returning starters on the offensive line (due to graduation, transfer, or injury).
We only return Austin Barrick, Phil Smith, and Sean Bedford as starters from 2009. That's 28 OL starts divided by 70 total OL starts = 40% of the starts (2 starters in the chart above). The 2010 offensive line features the lowest number of returning starts since I don't know when (internet stats only go so far).
I mentioned this in my comment on Block-C, however. A general "lack of returning starters" is not the entire story of our offensive line. Nick Claytor started 5 games in 2008 and had to go through back surgery in order to get back in to our rotation in 2009. Claytor has played in 23 games (tied for most on our offensive line) and will be the experience equivalent of a returning starter from 2009's squad. Umoregie Uzzi, Nick McRae, and Zach Krish are not exactly fresh pups either. Between the three, they have played in 24 games the past two seasons in mop up roles.
And if we really get into the nitty gritty, we see that ultimately this offensive line is about on par experience-wise with CPJ's two previous lines at Tech. In 2008, Johnson inherited a line with 46 career starts under its belt and only 80 total game appearances (27 starts from Andrew Gardner). Besides Gardner, no one had started a complete season. In 2009, Tech returned only 40 career starts with 70 total game appearances (31 starts from Cord Howard and Joseph Gilbert). 2010 features a line with only 37 career starts yet I am not really that worried. The starts are distributed across 4 different linemen and 3 other linemen have legit experience in the trenches (97 total game appearances).
I think our concerns should be mostly related to whether or not we can compete with a top 5 defensive line in a bowl game rather than whether or not experience will hurt our offense's regular season execution. What do you all think? Here's a refresher on the current depth chart according to Doug.