Monday, July 19, 2010

IU Offensive Line Big Enough To Take The Heat

Can the Indiana Hoosiers win with a middle-of-the-pack offensive line?

Let’s put that in perspective -- do the Hoosiers have a middle-of-the-pack line? Is it better or worse than that?

According to Phil Steele, the guy who picked Oklahoma as his preseason No. 1 when basically everybody has or will pick defending champ Alabama, IU will have the Big Ten’s seventh-best offensive line. The best belongs to Ohio State.

All this leads to the obvious question -- who’s Phil Steele?

He’s a sportswriter and analyst who publishes annual college football and NFL preview publications that are famous for their mind-numbing amount of information. He’s done the college football magazine since 1995 and writes every two-page preview of every team himself. During the fall he watches football almost non-stop on weekends thanks to the TWELVE TVs he has in his office, not to be confused with the SIX TVs he has at his home office.

Anyway, love him or not, the guy has a LOT of information at his disposal, and he’s not afraid to unleash it in his college football preview.

That’s a long-winded way of getting back to Indiana’s offensive line. The Hoosiers have a new offensive line coach in Mo Moriarity (technically he coaches centers and guards), who gave up a successful run at Carmel High School to return to Bloomington.

Moriarity, by the way, is pictured here courtesy of IU athletics.

They lost a pair of four-year starters in Rodger Saffold and Pete Saxon, but return lots of experience with senior Cody Faulkner, sophomore Will Matte, junior Justin Pagan and senior James Brewer. In fact, IU has six linemen with some starting experience, including expected starting left tackle Andrew McDonald.

If size means anything, IU should be in good shape. Brewer is listed at 6-8 and 335 pounds. Pagan is at 6-5 and 332. Faulkner is at 6-5 and 315. McDonald is at 6-6 and 304. The runt of the group is Matte at 6-2 and 295.

So what does all this mean? Basically, the Hoosiers have the potential to have a better-than-average offensive line. This is crucial because they want to run the ball better. That’s why they switched from a spread attack to a pistol offense last year. They didn’t exactly tear up the league, ranking eighth in Big Ten rushing, which is part of the reason why they finished just 4-8.

That has to improve. If it does, Ben Chappell instantly becomes a better quarterback and he wasn’t bad last year (the first Indiana QB to complete better than 60 percent of his passes). That could lead to more points (IU averaged 23.5 points last year) and, ideally, more victories and more job security for Lynch and his staff.

Wow. That’s a lot of pressure on the offensive line, especially given the fact the real key to Indiana’s success this season is defense.

But guess what? These guys are big enough to take it.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget they had a year's experience in the new offense too! I predict some fireworks this year as the "O" matures.