Next preview on offense is the offensive line. To see who they’ll be protecting, check out the backfield preview here.
LT - Austin Stidham - RFr - Has not played yet
LG - Kirk Kelley - JR - 13 starts, 0 sacks allowed, graded 86%+ in 11 games
C - Deontae Crumitie - SR - 13 starts, 1 sack allowed, graded 85%+ in 12 games
RG - Tristan Crowder - JR - 12 starts, 2 sacks allowed, graded 85%+ in 8 games
RT - JL Gaston - JR - 13 starts, 4 sacks allowed, graded 90%+ in 9 games
G Gerald Bell - SO - JUCO Transfer
C/G Dylan Bradshaw
G Zach Branner
OL James Peach
Crumitie and Crowder made first team preseason all conference, with Crumitie seeing his name on numerous award watch lists. Gaston and Kelley round out the returning starters on a highly efficient unit in the run game last year.
Bell is a JUCO transfer that should see time at the guard spots, while Bradshaw has seen spring action throughout the interior of the line. Peach and Branner were reserves last year, and have received praise from Coach Brown over the spring practices.
Four starters return to a line that surrendered the 12th fewest sacks in the country and finished in the top 35 of offensive efficiency. The unit oversaw a 46% rush and 43.5% pass success rate, both good for top 40 in the country.
The line graded out well in the run game last year, and more than held its own in pass protection. With uncertainty in the backfield, the unit will need to pave the way for the offense this year.
Positive reports out of spring camp, four starters returning, and experienced depth behind them are a recipe for success. If Stidham holds his own on the left side, the offense will be humming.