Spring Football Preview: Offensive Line

Spring football gets underway for UCF in a few weeks and there are plenty of intriguing story lines to pay attention to this off-season. InsideKnights.com continues its "What to Look for" Spring football preview by taking a glance at the "Big Boys" on the offensive line.

It is no secret by now that the Knights had the worst offense in the country last year. One of the reasons for the lack of success was the inconsistent play on the offensive line. The lines success was held back in part due to injuries and players leaving, both voluntarily and involuntarily, but they never showed much promise. The line had only one member that started in the same spot all year long, and that was senior left tackle Pat Brown. Brown's departure has left a big hole at the left tackle spot, and due to limited success last year, the other four spots are anything but locked up.

From the underachieving starting line last year, Nick Pieschel, Ian Bustillo, Ja Reid, and Adam Nissley return. Nissley is likely to take over the void at left tackle, but that will leave a new void at right tackle. Pieschel will have to work very hard to ever see the field as a starter again, due to his propensity in 2008 to get beat worse than Rihanna by the hands of Chris Brown. Jah Reid looks the part of an All-American right tackle, but doesn't seem to play like the "Tarzan" character he appears to be. Bustillo will likely find a role as a starter as either a center or a guard, due to having a solid season last year.

With the likelihood that possibly only two of the spots will be filled by returning starters, the Knights will look to the freshman they brought in from last year, and JUCO transfer Abre Leggins. Abre Leggins will project as a guard; he could earn a starting role due to limited competition. Of the freshman last year, Steven Robinson is the most likely to start, he will be slated to play the other guard spot. He was physically ready to start day one, and probably should have. That leaves only one spot left at right tackle, which will likely be fought over by Chad Hounshell, Jarian Moreland, John Oliver, and Theo Goins, who will be moving to the offensive line. There is also a possibility that Bustillo gets beat out at center by Moreland, but I think Bustillo is safe due to him having a productive 2008 season.

One thing is for sure, there should be vast improvement this year from the offensive line, then again it is hard to get much worse. The acquisition of Brent Key as the new line coach should help; he is a fiery young coach that played on the line at Georgia Tech. He will undoubtedly help this line that is likely to be very big and very young. Look for the Knights O-line in 2009 to create more holes for running back Brynn Harvey, and give whoever is lined up behind center more time than in the disappointing season that was 2008.

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