Postion Analysis: Offensive Line
The Candidates: 79 Jermar Clark (6-6, 304 RJr), 78 Jamal Fontenot (6-4, 300 So), 77 Daniel Keith (6-4, 276 RFr) 76 Austin Moreton (6-1, 300 RJr), 75 Dalton Ford (6-4, 295 Fr), 74 Devin Mondie (6-5, 304 Rjr), 73 Cameron Davis (6-4, 280 Fr), 72 Joseph Bacchus (6-4, 275 Jr) 71 Steven Stevens (6-4, 296 RSr), 70 Kyle Harris (6-4, 267 Sr) 69 Robert Maxwell (6-3, 287 RJr), 65 Brendan Weiss (6-3, 206 RFr) 63 Ben Benton (6-6, 290 Jr), 61 Colton Jackson (6-4, 281 RJr) 60 Jhamahl Bell (6-3, 271 RFr) 58 Brandon Berg (6-2, 276 Jr).
The Breakdown: LEFT TACKLE Jermar Clark, Kyle Harris; LEFT GUARD Steven Stevens or Daniel Keith; CENTER Devin Mondie, Brandon Berg; RIGHT GUARD Austin Moreton – 6'1 316 R Jr, Jamal Fontenot; RIGHT TACKLE Colton Jackson, Joseph Bacchus.
The Numbers: In 2014, Arkansas State started a line with a combined 17 starts, with 13 of those coming from Colton Jackson who started every game of his redshirt freshman campaign. That lack of experience showed up in terms of short yardage running on third down, where Arkansas State finished 91st in the country. Jackson again drew accolades this offseason as a preseason All-Sun Belt selection. The team did finish with a 4.9 yards per carry average, but allowed 31 sacks.
The Analysis: The coaches think that the depth of the offensive line is much better than last year's “five guys and a prayer” as OL coach Glen Elarbee described it. With Clark, Mondie and Jackson having at least 12 starts on their resumes, the experience should help to solidify what was a shaky group at times last year.
JUCO transfers Joseph Bacchus, Brandon Berg and Jamal Fontenot all add depth and competition to the offensive line. Daniel Keith overcame a season-ending ankle injury to compete at both the center and guard positions and he has been cleared for a medical redshirt giving him four years of eligibility.
Austin Moreton filled in shortly at a guard before he had an ACL injury during the Appalachian State game and has trimmed down to allow himself more lateral mobility.
Kyle Harris was the “swing tackle” backing up both Clark and Jackson last season as well as being a back-up center.
Freshmen Cameron Davis and Dalton Ford have both seen time with the second group and Davis has seen time with the first group during fall camp as minor nicks have given them the opportunity to show their ability.
The offensive line is going to be a major part of how far this team can go. Unfortunately, there have been numerous nicks and bumps that have kept the coaches from putting the same starting group out there much. If they gel together and have some depth to be able to have one or two miss a little time and not falter, then the offense can be as explosive as it ever has. If the OL struggles or shows cracks in the depth chart, then the offense will be relegated to hoping for the home run ball on every drive.
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