Previous position breakdowns:
Today we continue the position breakdowns for the 2013 football season and focus on the Offensive Line. This is the group that many fans are questioning because of the loss of Mario Benavides and Alex Kupper, as well as players having to change positions. Let’s see who the Cards have lining up this season.
6’4 312 lbs
One of the biggest things to keep your eye on this season will be the move of Jake Smith from guard to center. He will step in for the graduated Mario Benavides, who was great at the position. In his first 2 seasons, Smith has started 25 games at guard alongside of Benavides. So he does not lack game experience. At media day, Shawn Watson said he has full confidence in Smith moving to center, saying that it benefited him a lot to play next to Benavides so much.
As a freshman, Smith started all 13 games and was the first player to be named to the FWAA Freshman All-American team. As a sophomore, he started in every game except the Sugar Bowl, which he did not start because of illness.
So it will be big to see if the move from guard to center will be a smooth transition for Jake Smith.
6’6 350 lbs
Talk about a big guy…6’6 350 lbs?! Jamon Brown definitely has the size that you want on the offensive line. He will certainly be under the microscope this season as well. He is making the big move from right tackle to left tackle. What is big about that is he is playing the “blind side” position, making him Teddy Bridgewater’ on the line. Needless to say, Brown has a big responsibility this season.
Brown came to UofL as a defensive lineman, but was on the offensive line before the season ended. Last year as a sophomore, he started all 13 games at right tackle. So again, he does not lack game experience. He will just have to adjust to playing in a different position on the line.
6’3 265 lbs
Another probable starter on the line, this one at guard, will be Kamran Joyer. Injuries have slowed him down thus far in his career at UofL, but he is hoping to stay healthy for a full season. Last year he played in 4 games, starting against Pittsburgh and Florida. So for the coaches to start him in the Sugar Bowl to replace Jake Smith (illness) says a lot about their confidence in him.
6’2 321 lbs
Another starter at guard will be John Miller. In his first 2 seasons, he has started 21 games. In 2011, he was 1 of only 5 true freshmen in the nation to start on the offensive line. Last year he played in 12 games, starting in 11 of them. The combination of Miller and Jake Smith should be good for runs up the middle.
Abraham “Nacho” Garcia
6’5 347 lbs
One of the biggest recruits Charlie Strong has landed with the Cards, literally and figuratively, “Nacho” Garcia will battle for the starting right tackle position this fall. ESPN rated him as a 4 star prospect coming out of high school.
He also had scholarship offers from Florida, LSU, Auburn, Miami (U), Wisconsin, and more.
6’5 319 lbs
Mack should be battling Garcia for the right tackle spot. He has good size and athleticism for a lineman. He was rated as a 3 star prospect coming out of high school and was first team all-state in Tennessee.
Other linemen for the Cards this season:
Aaron Epps RS Sophomore 6’7 279 lbs
Chris Acosta RS Junior 6’3 275 lbs
Tobijah Hughley RS Freshman 6’3 291 lbs
Chris Walker RS Senior 6’3 299 lbs
Skylar Lacy Freshman 6’6 320 lbs
David Noltemeyer RS Junior 6’4 297 lbs
Chandler Bridges Freshman 6’3 285 lbs
Chase Petersen RS Sophomore 6’4 295 lbs
Josh Stearns RS Sophomore 6’1 285 lbs
T.C. Klusman RS Freshman 6’3 272 lbs
Joe Manley RS Freshman 6’6 326 lbs
Cameron Fraser Freshman 6’4 262 lbs
A lot of people are worried about the offensive line this season. I am aware of the reasons, but I am confident in this group. For the most part, we have experienced guys that are changing positions. It would be different if it was a whole new group of guys that have not played in big games before. I think Jake Smith will be just fine at controlling the line at center. It feels like he knows that too and has plenty of confidence in his ability.
If Jamon Brown can transition to the left tackle spot, that will ease a lot of minds, so that will definitely be something to look out for.
There are a couple of things that I think can help the line. First is the schedule. The strength, or lack there-of, of the schedule will allow the line to get better each game, while not playing the best teams. We just want to see progress each week. Another thing that could help them is how good the skill position players are on offense. If the line isn’t protecting well, we have the receivers we could just throw quick passes to and let them make a move. We have running backs that are good enough to get a few yards on their own. You can put big B.J. Butler back there as lead blocker, and that is like having another lineman, only this one gets a running start at the defense.
So there are plenty of questions to be answered with this position. But I am confident in the group, and I think they will end up being just fine.
Monday I will bring you the breakdown of the Defensive Line!
*Some info came from GoCards.com