clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Georgia Tech Football: 2016 Position Previews - Offensive Line

New, 19 comments

A huge part of 2015's struggles were from the inconsistencies from the offensive line.

Countdown to Kickoff: 57 Days

As our 100 Days to Kickoff series continues to tick down, we begin our position previews to provide an in-depth look at who will be on the field for the Yellow Jackets this year. Each position has seen some old faces leave and new ones take their place. This week is all about becoming more familiar with the depth chart and getting an idea of what to expect out of each position group this fall.

2016 Position Previews: Offensive Line

In what was supposed to be one of the most experienced and productive groups in 2015, the Georgia Tech offensive line was basically a disaster. Looking back at the brutal season, you'd be hard-pressed to find a position that was as disappointing and responsible for the struggles as the offensive linemen.

Part of this was because of expectations. The Jackets' O-Line brought back four of their five starters that hammered defenses during the entire 2014 season. Two things were discovered. Shaq Mason was indescribably important, and chemistry is a really big deal. Due to injuries and rotations in the line, the group had miscommunications time and time again that were never solved. Despite Johnson saying he wanted to simplify the offense to help the schemes for the linemen, the issue was never solved.

The worst part was the pass protection. The efficient Justin Thomas from 2014 was unable to carry over his success as he finished 89th in the nation in passing efficiency. It's hard to place much of the blame on Thomas as he spent most of his drop backs running furiously away from multiple defenders that broke through the Tech line with ease. With newly hired offensive line coach Ron West in town now, the Jackets will need a massive boost from the boys up front to make the leap toward the elite play that was seen just two seasons ago.

Who's Gone?

Trey Braun, Bryan Chamberlain, and Errin Joe left the Jackets for graduation -- all three being starters at the beginning of the season. In addition, the team lost a key reserve in Gary Brown, who quit football to pursue a career in art. (You can't make these things up.) While the loss of the three starters would look fairly significant, Johnson had shaken up the offensive line for the most part by the end of the year. Due to this, more younger players found playing time than you would expect from a group that had four experienced linemen starting. Trey Braun figures to be the biggest loss from the group, as he had developed into a vocal leader and talented lineman for the Tech offense.

Who's New?

Parker Braun, Kenny Cooper, and Jahaziel Lee are the Jackets' incoming offensive linemen for 2016. Just like last season, we could definitely see a true freshman get playing time depending on how the starting unit looks early. The most likely candidates are Braun and Cooper -- with Braun hopefully having some advice from his older brother. Ideally, all four will be able to redshirt thanks to a deep group that exceeds expectations ahead of them, but I'd expect at least Braun to be needed at some point.

What Should We Expect?

Probably more than any other position, offensive line is a huge question mark this season. As a complete opposite of last year, the expectations aren't very high with an inexperienced group taking over. With that being said, there is still plenty of talent to be seen with a deep list of guys that could possibly contribute. Combine that with a new coach and a huge emphasis on fixing the line from Johnson and you could hope to see a pleasant surprise from the group that is an integral part of the Georgia Tech offense running like the fine machine we've seen before.

Projecting the starters isn't exactly easy. You'd expect to see Trey Klock and Will Bryan remain at left and right tackle after ending the season starting in those spots and showing some pleasing signs, but Bryan could also move back to left guard. The most experienced lineman, Freddie Burden hopes to be back at center and 100 percent healthy and motivated as the leader of the group. The two guard spots are where it could get messy depending where guys end up sticking. Andrew Marshall, the former backup center, is transitioning over to guard and has a great chance to gain a starting spot there. Marshall was considered by many as one of Tech's better linemen and Johnson made the move to get him in a consistent starting role. The other guard spot would go to Shamire Devine in a perfect world. Devine has a load of potential but has failed to put together the conditioning and focus on the field to get it all working. If it were to click for the 6-foot-7, 386 point lineman, it would be a huge boost to the Jackets. Redshirt freshman Scott Morgan and redshirt junior Eason Fromoyan also figure to be right in the mix. My projected depth chart is more so a representation of how I'd like things to turn out -- because who knows what Johnson may do.

Projected Depth Chart:

Left Tackle Trey Klock Eason Fromoyan
Left Guard Andrew Marshall Chris Griffin
Center Freddie Burden Andrew Marshall
Right Guard Shamire Devine Jake Whitley
Right Tackle Will Bryan Eason Fromoyan