…the offensive line. We got Merrick out with headaches, Wagner out with appendicitis, our starting left tackle is out until the middle of the season and he was not a dominant player so his backup is even less dominant. Our starting center has never played the position in a game and has not practiced it until this preseason. We are grabbing defensive linemen and hoping they can play in the two deep to start the season. We have true freshmen as backups. We started off the season short on offensive linemen due to poor recruiting and some surprise (Rogers) departures.
So, we got a very shaky offensive line and our QB is unsettled. This sounds like a very scary way to start the season. Go hogs!
Valid concerns for sure. They would be even bigger concerns if we were still running Bielema’ s Offense. I’ve never seen such slow developing pass plays. New system and more speed should at least partially negate some of the O-line woes.
I agree that in this offense, offensive linemen can get away with not being dominant and being more finesse oriented rather than forceful. But, if you can’t hold off the pass rush or get some tough yards in a short yardage situation, there is a lot of the playbook that is not available. There are a lot of very effective spread RPO offense QB’s (Nick Marshall, Johnny Manziel, etc.) who were not great passers but were very effective passing with their running threat. So, you can get away without a great passer if he has other skills in this offense. But there are times when offensive linemen need to block well to get the full power of this offense and I think we will need its full power if we hope to have a bowl eligible team.
Look at it this way. Last year, before the first game, we had a former walk-on, true freshman, starting at right guard. THAT should have screamed to all of us “where are the talented offensive linemen that should have beat him out?” (Since, he got beat regularly and ended the season not playing much it was not because he was a surprisingly great player.)
Now, we have low numbers in the O-line to start with, 3-4 injured players who were expected to contribute and/or start, we are shifting a great player to a totally new position, center, and we are shifting another, possibly, great player, Capps, to an even more totally new position, defensive tackle to offensive guard. Clary starting last year was not good. All of this before we play a game is “way more not good” and reason to be concerned. At least last year we had a veteran QB. This year, we have big question marks trying to learn a brand new offense. I say all of this so Clay or Dudley or Matt or anyone will tell me it will be all right and they will do just fine.
Youth in the Offensive line is never good. It is what worries me the most about this team. The left side appears extremely green no matter how they line up. The move of Hjalte Froholdt to center might be good for center but not for the left side.
You are right that we have 2 weeks and an easy 1st game and I think that is going to be needed for smoothing out the rough edges. We heard that Colton Jackson is ahead of schedule so we may have him before AU. I would also add that CSU is going to be a test but that is followed by UNT which gives us some more tweaking time before we go to Auburn. In effect, we have 4-5 weeks of development before AU.
I’m not convinced it is going to be an easy first game. Arkansas should win, yes, but EIU has 47 players who are in their third, fourth or fifth year, and Kim Dameron seems to really like his defense. Petrino and Bielema struggled in their first games against FCS teams. I think Arkansas’ offensive line problems coupled with a veteran defense could make it closer than some think it is going to be.
This makes my stomach hurt. If the first game is close I’m afraid it will be a nasty year. Isn’t that team like playing UCA? 28 point win was my thought after we give up some late points playing younger players.
They lost five All-OVC players to graduation so that has to hurt in an FCS program. 5 offensive linemen who started games return, good players return at running back and wide receiver (top returning strength). QB Gilkey is back after starting five games last year in an offense that struggled at times last year, so they have changed offenses.
Hogmodo, you make some great points. The first 3 games will tell us a lot. As others have also noted, the new O will have to make up for some of the problems. Speed, quickness and finesse should help, as well as better play calling. AND, the D may have to keep us in games. Lots of serious concerns at this point…