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Georgia Tech Football: Opinion Week - Temper your expectations for the Offensive Line

"It's never as good or as bad as it seems." - Paul Johnson about everything

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Countdown to Kickoff: 95 Days

With the exception of the 2014 season, Georgia Tech really hasn't had much of an offensive line, which is a problem in an option-oriented offense, such as Tech's. Despite that fact, every year, just about every one (myself included) like to pretend that the offensive line is going to take a magical step forward and be good for Tech this year. Well in this article, I'm going to try and get you and me to stop thinking like that.

Why do we always think that the offensive line is going to be good?

Well last year, that's an easy explanation. We had a bunch of returning seniors and lost only one offensive lineman from the previous season. So what happened? It turns out that that offensive lineman turned out to be way more important than we all thought. The term "bell cow" was thrown out a lot in reference to previous offensive linemen at Tech (Omoregie Uzzi and Shaq Mason come to mind immediately). But who is that guy now?

Right now, the closest thing we have to that is our center, Freddie Burden. Sure, he's been really good since he's been at Tech, but injury issues have limited him to an extent. The other thing with Burden being the bell cow is that that is a role that he (or someone else) actually has to take. Someone can't just be named the leader of the offensive line. They have to earn the respect of their fellow offensive linemen. It's something that I think Burden is more than capable of, but I have not seen that yet.

So if Burden doesn't step up into that role, who else could? Looking at the roster, I only see two other potential options: Will Bryan and Trey Klock. They are both young, but, after Burden, they are the most experienced offensive linemen and probably the most talented.

These two got a little taste of the fire last season when they ended up ending the season as the starters at right and left tackle, respectively. If one of these guys were to step up, I'd put money on it being Bryan though.

This is all a lot of ifs, ands and buts at this point, though. A team also needs more than one good offensive lineman, too, which is hard to tell if we have at this point. Mostly because of my next point.

We don't really have a lot of experience

This is a young offensive line. The bulk of its starting experience come from Freddie Burden, Shamire Devine and Chris Griffin, prior to his injury. At this point, Griffin's return is still in question, so we really don't know what the offensive line will even look like, but here's my best guess:

LT: Trey Klock

LG: Will Bryan

C: Freddie Burden

RG: Shamire Devine OR Andrew Marshall

RT: Eason Fromayan

I was actually surprised by the total amount of starts by this group, which was 45. Most of those come from Burden and Devine, though, with just seven starts coming from the other four players.

That's not exactly awe-inspiring. It means that they may not be quite up to gamespeed yet, and in Tech's offense, which is pretty fast-paced on the line, that's pretty important. This group needs time to bond, which because of Burden's injury, they didn't get the chance to do in the spring.

This group is going to need to learn to gel quickly, as Boston College (Tech's first opponent) had one of the top defenses in the country last year (with one of the worst offenses to compliment it).

But we have that new coach!

Following Ray Rychleski being fired, Ron West was brought in to help coach up the offensive tackles, so Mike Sewak could focus in on the interior offensive line, a situation that worked pretty well when Paul Johnson first started at Tech, so shouldn't it work now that we're doing it again?

In theory, yes, but at this point it is way too early to tell. Instead, let's take a look at West's past to see how he's performed as an offensive line coach.

Looking at his history as a coach, the first thing that stands out to me is that he hasn't coached on the offensive side of the ball since 2003 with Clemson. Thirteen years is a long time to go without coaching the offensive line.

The best thing we as Tech fans can hope he learned from that is how to think like a defense and thus counter that more effectively. Unfortunately, though, things don't always work out like that.

Something that will help from his time at Clemson is some of the other coaches that were around. Well, at least the guy who was running the offense for part of the time while West was there: Rich Rodriguez, who also runs an option-based offense, though his is out of the shotgun.

Having West as a coach will definitely help, but it remains to be seen just how much he will help.


So, now that I've said a bunch of my jumbled thoughts, what does it all mean? Well, it all means that we don't really have a whole lot on which to base expectations for the offensive line. We don't really know if there is a leader. We don't really know how good a lot of these kids are. We don't really know if this new coach is going to make a difference. That all means that this year's offensive line is a gigantic question mark.

What I do know is that Tech needs the offensive line to perform better than it did last year. There were many games where the difference was offensive line play. If the line had just blocked a little better, we could have completed that pass, or finished that run, or break through that hole.

Tech needs its offensive line play to improve, but at this point, we know next to nothing about this year's offensive line. And certainly, we don't know enough to make any accurate predictions about it.