Skipper and Kirkland were thrust into starting roles as true freshmen at a time when the Hogs overall OL talent wasn’t the best. My question, subjective as it is, who among our current Soph O-linemen (Froholdt, Wallace, Rogers) or Redshirt Freshman O-linemen (Jackson, Merrick) would be considered to be comparable in knowledge and ability as Skipper and Kirkland were as true freshmen?
Another way to ask the same question … would Skipper or Kirkland have become starters as incoming true freshmen with the roster of returning O-linemen Arkansas has today?
I think Froholdt is probably comparable. He looks like the most game ready among those you mention.
I wasn’t high on him in the spring, but it appears he has grasped the position well. I wonder if some of his troubles in the spring were a result of Jackson not doing the right things beside him. I don’t think Jackson is ready to play at the SEC level. Maybe he’ll get there.
Wallace doesn’t look comfortable at tackle. He seems to wear down and his pass protection is lacking. He may be more suited at guard.
I think the O-line was void when Skipper and Kirkland arrived. It was not a good situation. Froholdt is the most talented young linemen I’ve seen in a long time. He’s not in the same league as a Shawn Andrews, but he’s a massive talent. He has a bend in the hips and a strength that you just don’t see much. He will be an All-American before he’s done. He was really good in the plays in which I watched just him yesterday.
I think this offensive line will be better than the one that played in Bielema’s first season. Much better. That one wasn’t very good.
Jalen Merrick is an immense talent, too. Remember, he hasn’t played much football. So he’s still learning the finer points. I expect him to keep getting better. He may be one of the tackles at some point this season. Remember, Skipper and Kirkland were not starters in their first game.
Brian Wallace will play himself into better shape. There are times he does well, then times his form slips when he’s tired.
Jake Raulerson is a solid player, but not a great player. He doesn’t have the overall ability of some of the others. He’s just older and has some experience and that’s valuable.
I saw some good things from Paul Ramirez yesterday. He has ability. I will be interested to see if Zach Rogers can hold him off. Ramirez is bigger and much longer than Rogers. But Rogers understands the scheme.
It’s clear that the line is still coming together. There may be one more experiment left. Anderson hinted that Ragnow might be tried at right tackle. That would leave Rogers and Raulerson to battle it out at center. Jackson Hannahs is taking some snaps at center, too. Bielema suggested that Hannahs would not play during the interview after the scrimmage. So that means that the top three centers are Ragnow, Rogers and Raulerson.
They have a lot of talent building on that line. Coach Anderson is doing a great job and Coach Bielema has brought in the players. Jackson HANNAH is a redshirt soph from Bentonville. He injured his patella his first fall season and missed the following spring. He played this entire past spring red/white game as center on the #2 offense. They asked him after spring to reshape his body; he was at 302/ 6’2"; he dropped to 275 and now is building back. He’s been buying his time on the 3s this fall camp as the transfers and frosh scholarship players go thru the evaluation process. He is on the SEC academic honor roll and does everything asked of him. Yesterday he played his first significant time since the beginning of fall camp on the 2s; he has played every position on the line except TE, but is considered an interior lineman. He will continue to push. WPS
We are going to have depth that we have not had in recent memory. This is a big issue with teams like Bama, LSU, UF and AU that always have a deep rotation of Dlineman to wear down your Oline. We are going to be able to rotate guys and keep starters fresh for the first time in a long time. Skipper, Ragnow, Kirkland Smothers, and Tretola had to play a lot of snaps last year for guys that big. We didn’t have the talent and experience behind them to rotate in critical game conditions, but this year looks like it will provide a fresher Oline in the 3rd and 4th quarters.
Rotating players in the offensive line is not something many line coaches want to do. I do not remember many teams swapping O-line to rest players. I do see players rotate if there is a true battle. I saw Frank Ragnow sub for Mitch Smothers some when they were trying to decide who was better. When Smothers settled in as the best one at center, Ragnow didn’t play as much. I saw a rotation when Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland were freshmen. But when the coaches figured out they were better and knew the scheme, they started and stayed on the field.
There may be some rotation at right tackle until they figure out who is best. But then I bet that guy stays on the field.