I think he’s talking about pure strength and bulk. Smothers was probably upwards of 320. Without question, Denver Kirkland and Sebastian Tretola were massive bodies. Kirkland was generally in the 350 range. Tretola started at 375 and got down to 320 or so, but he was a big, massive body, too. All of those were older players. I think that’s what he was talking about, the size and bulk that those guys had.
I remember talking to Jim Chaney about goal line plays. He said it was pretty simple, he ran behind Kirkland, the biggest body out there. When he was at guard, he ran behind him there. When he was at tackle, he ran behind that gap between Kirkland and Tretola. Kirkland could step inside and wall up that side and the two of them caved in that side of the line.
I don’t see two men side by side who can do that. Skipper is the oldest of the group. Froholdt is one of the youngest. They are side by side and good size people, although you can see that Skipper doesn’t get a bend in his hip to get low on the goal line. That’s just not what he does easily with that length in his body. Froholdt has a bend and has good size and he’s probably going to be bigger at times, but he’s still learning all of the technique. As you see things more, you do better against it. I think he’ll be a 340 guy eventually. Ragnow is a long, lean guy who doesn’t carry massive bulk.
I see guys who may help in this area. Ramirez is adding bulk and will be a 320 guy at some point, I think. I also think Jalen Merrick is a guy who can help in this way. He’s still learning technique. Jake Raulerson is not a big body type. He was considered undersized at Texas. He’s bulked up from around 285 to 305 since arriving. He probably can add another 5 pounds, but I don’t see him being a big body guard in the SEC. But he has a knowledge of offensive line play that some of the others are still gaining. I wonder if at some point you will see Merrick challenging him because that is the body style that is coveted as an OG in the SEC.
Brian Wallace is going to be a good player. He did a lot of good things in that game. He was given a very tough challenge and handled it better than I thought he might. That’s a good sign for the future. I saw him move people on running plays, especially some of those inside the 20 with Rawleigh running to the right inside tackle. One of them was a TD and the other should have been a TD, but Rawleigh had it stripped.
One of the things that is going to happen, all of these guys will improve. All will get better with technique. They’ve gone from one style of technique (Pittman) to a different style of technique (Anderson). Plus, they are young without a lot of experience. The experience part is as important as the bulk and strength part of growing up as a college linemen.
Most will tell you that offensive linemen are best as juniors and seniors when they around the age of 22. It just is the way it is at that position. You learn. You see things that take time to develop. You need to see so many different things. You see things in a game that you didn’t see on tape that week and there is an adjustment. The more you play, the less there is that adjustment period.
For all of the struggles of the OL, that group still helped the offense gain over 500 yards, but there were 42 yards in losses to put the net at 491. The running game had 162 positive yards before the losses. Not bad. Not gaining six inches on the goal line a couple of times and losing a fumble going in changed the way you look at all of those stats.
I think this offensive line will grow and be pretty decent by season’s end. It will grow some more over spring and be what Bielema is accustomed to early next year. I had no illusions that this was going to be a great OL to start the season, but there is a lot of potential here and it’s too early to say they can’t get to where Bielema wants them to be. I believe they will get there.