Stuart McNair | BamaMag

Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; May 18

A few thoights to jump start your Wednesday morning...

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 500 times: The Southeastern Conference is a line of scrimmage league. Since 2009, nobody has done the line of scrimmage better in the SEC than Alabama but that dominance up front might have taken as severe a blow as we’ve seen with the arrest of potential All-American left tackle Cam Robinson on drugs and weapons charges in Louisiana yesterday and last week’s dismissal of junior college transfer Charles Baldwin, who was expected to anchor right tackle. Their replacements are senior Korren Kirven who converted to the O-line a year ago and played in five games and true freshman Jonah Williams.

Alabama has two excellent starters returning in Ross Pierschbacher, who started at left guard all 15 games as a true freshman last year and massive (6-6, 345) senior guard Alphonse Taylor, who started 15 games last year, but in no way does this offensive line look formidable now. With Bama breaking in a brand new quarterback and a new tailback there are questions on offense that didn’t exist a week ago.

Meanwhile at Florida, Jim McElwain and position coach Mike Summers no longer have the least experienced offensive line in the SEC. When the season began in 2010, the Gators had all of 10 career starts on the O-line and all belonged to Trip Thurman. This year the Gators return six linemen who have a collective 43 starts between them.

One year doesn’t necessarily make you a year better, but the history of both McElwain and Summers shows second year improvement.  And, there is no question the Gators will be deeper, stronger, more athletic and more versatile in 2016 than they were last season when they struggled, especially down the stretch to both protect the quarterback and open holes for the running game. The Gators averaged only 3.48 yards per rush last year, 7.2 yards per pass attempt and gave up 45 sacks. All three of those numbers are expected to improve substantially in 2016.

Here is what Florida’s offensive line looks like a little more than two months before fall camp will open:

LT: David Sharpe (6-6, 347, JR)

LG: Tyler Jordan (6-4, 295, SO)

C: Cam Dillard (6-4, 308, RJR)

RG: Antonio Riles (6-4, 311, RJR)

RT: Fredrick Johnson (6-6, 315, SO) or Martez Ivey (6-5, 312, SO)

Depending on the health of Ivey, who had both shoulders operated on in the offseason, the line could take on a much different look. Ivey could move to LT with Sharpe moving inside to LG and Tyler Jordan moving back to RG where he spent most of his time in 2015 when he played in all 14 games and started three.

A look at the rest of the O-lines in the SEC:

Alabama: This has gone from a line looking like it can dominate into one of disarray. Losing Robinson and Baldwin changes the entire perspective for Alabama 2016.

Yards per rush 2015: 4.67

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 7.6

Sacks allowed 2015: 26

LT: Korren Kirven (6-4, 308, SR)

LG: Lester Cotton (6-4, 319, SO)
C: Ross Pierschbacher (6-4, 304, SO)
RG: Alphonse Taylor (6-5, 345, SR)
RT: Jonah Williams (6-5, 288, FR)

Arkansas: Arkansas lost three starters but the biggest loss was OL coach Sam Pittman who bolted to Georgia. The new coach is Kurt Anderson, who has to rebuild an O-line that allowed only 14 sacks in 2015. Anderson’s big move in the spring was moving Frank Ragnow from RG to C. He allowed only 2 sacks all of last season, none in the last seven games, and went the final nine games without a penalty. Massive Dan Skipper (6-10, 326, SR) moves from the right side to the left side where he could be an All-SEC candidate.

Yards per rush 2015: 5.01

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 9.3

Sacks allowed 2015: 14

LT: Dan Skipper (6-10, 326, SR)

LG: Zach Rogers (6-1, 303, SO)

C: Frank Ragnow (6-5, 314, JR)

RG: Brian Wallace (6-6, 326, SO) or Hijalte Froholdt (6-4, 309, SO)

RT: Colton Jackson (6-6, 302, RFR)

Auburn: The problem wasn’t Auburn’s offensive line last year. The problem was productivity out of the quarterback position, which gave the Tigers virtually no running game. Although the Tigers have to replace both starting tackles, they have experience at LT in the form of Austin Golson, who started 10 games at center in an injury-shortened season. Left guard Alex Kozan, a high school teammate of UF quarterback Luke Del Rio and Stanford Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey, has 27 career starts and could contend for the Outland Trophy. Braden Smith has 14 career starts and is coming off a second team All-SEC season. This should be one of the two or three best O-lines in the SEC in 2016.

Yards per rush 2015: 4.35

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 7.4

Sacks allowed 2015: 19

LT: Austin Golson (6-5, 304, JR)
LG: Alex Kozan (6-4, 300, SR)
C: Xavier Dampeer (6-2, 3-5, SR)
RG: Braden Smith (6-6, 286, JR)
RT: Robert Leff (6-6, 288, SR)

Georgia: The big news for Georgia was that new head coach Kirby Smart poached Sam Pittman from Arkansas to coach his OL. Pittman shuffled things around in the spring, moving Brandon Kublanow (26 career starts) to center and moving guard Isaiah Wynn to RT. Greg Pyke, second team All-SEC in 2014, was moved back to right guard where he has 23 career starts. Freshman Ben Cleveland should start at LT.

Yards per rush 2015: 5.14

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 7.4

Sacks allowed 2015: 15

LT: Ben Cleveland (6-6, 6-6, 345, FR)

LG: Dyshon Sims (6-4, 293, JR)
C: Brandon Kublanow (6-3, 282, SR)
RG: Greg Pyke (6-6, 313, SR)
RT: Isaiah Wynn (6-2, 278, JR)

Kentucky: The Wildcats have a new offensive coordinator in Eddie Gran, who has four starters returning from 2015. He has a potential all-star candidate in center Jon Toth, who has 35 career starts. The new guy in the lineup is sophomore LT George Asafo-Adjei, who saw playing time both inside and on the outside as a true freshman. Gran ran a wide open passing game at Cincinnati the last couple of years. We’ll see in the fall whether Kentucky’s anemic yards per pass attempt (6.3) was because of an inept offensive scheme or a lack of talent on the O-line.

Yards per rush 2015: 4.66

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 6.3

Sacks allowed 2015: 30

LT: George Asafo-Adjei (6-5, 325, SO)
LG: Nick Haynes (6-3, 308, RJR)
C: Jon Toth (6-5, 310, RSR)

RG: Ramsey Meyers (6-4, 320 RJR)

RT: Kyle Meadows (6-5, 298, RJR)

LSU: The Tigers lost both tackles to the NFL but the middle of the line might be as good as it gets anywhere in the country with Ethan Pocic at C, Will Clapp at LG and Josh Boutte at RG. Pojcic made second team All-SEC. He might be the best C in the nation. Clapp started 12 games as a true freshman last year. Boutte has played in 32 career games. Maea Teuhuma, who started 11 games at guard, moved out to LT. LSU is going to be able to run the football. The question is going to be pass protection with Teuhema and Toby Weathersby new guys on the outside.

Yards per rush 2015: 6.1

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 7.8

Sacks allowed 2015: 17

LT: Maea Teuhema (6-4, 327, SO)

LG: Will Clapp (6-5, 303, RSO)
C: Ethan Pocic (6-7, 309, SR)

RG: Josh Boutte (6-5, 342, SR)    

RT: Toby Weathersby (6-5, 292, SO)

Mississippi State: John Hevesy should have one of the better O-lines in the SEC this year. Justin Senior, who started all 13 games at RT, switched sides and in his place is Martinas Rankin, who took a redshirt last year. Coming out of juco he was one of the most highly regarded O-linemen in the country. Jamaal Clayborn at C and Devon Desper at RG are rock solid after 13 starts each last year and LG Deion Calhoun didn’t start but was in the rotation in all 13 games.  

Yards per rush 2015: 4.39

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 8.2

Sacks allowed 2015: 32

LT: Justin Senior (6-5, 295, RSR)
LG: Deion Calhoun (6-3, 303, RSO)
C: Jamaal Clayborn (6-4, 315, RSR)
RG: Devon Desper (6-4, 305, RSR)
RT: Martinas Rankin (6-5,302, RJR)

Missouri: Missouri lost four of its five starting O-linemen last year. Depending upon your perspective that might be a good thing since Mizzou had one of the most inept offenses in the country. The only returning lineman with real experience is left guard Nate Crawford who started 11 games last year. This is a massive rebuild job.

Yards per rush 2015: 3.49

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 5.3

Sacks allowed 2015: 30

LT: Tyler Howell (6-8, 305, JR)
LG: Nate Crawford (6-5, 300, RJR)
C: Samson Bailey (6-4, 270, RSO)
RG: Alec Abeln (6-3, 290, RJR)

RT: Paul Adams (6-6, 290, RSO)

Ole Miss: From the moment he arrived on campus as a true freshman, Laremy Tunsil was the starting LT. Tunsil has moved on to the NFL and in his place will be another true freshman in Greg Little, last year’s top high school O-lineman. The critical returnee for Ole Miss is C Robert Conyers, who started five games last year before tearing his ACL. Ole Miss assistant Matt Luke is one of the most underrated O-line coaches in the country. This group will likely be one of the best in the SEC by the time October arrives.

Yards per rush 2015: 5.14

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 8.9

Sacks allowed 2015: 19

LT: Greg Little (6-5, 318, FR)

LG: Javon Patterson (6-3, 307, SO)

C: Robert Conyers (6-5, 290, RSR)
RG: Rod Taylor (6-3, 320, JR)

RT: Alex Givens (6-6, 293, RFR)

South Carolina: Will Muschamp made a very smart move when he retained O-line coach Shawn Elliott from the previous staff. The Gamecocks actually have some experience along the OL with 32 career starts spread among Mason Zandi, Zach Bailey and Alan Knott and another 23 career starts (all at Wake Forest) fro transfer RG Corey Helms.

Yards per rush 2015: 4.39

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 7.1

Sacks allowed 2015: 26

LT: Mason Zandi (6-9, 308, RSR)
LG: Zack Bailey (6-6, 316, SO)
C: Alan Knott (6-4, 280, RJR)
RG: Cory Helms (6-4, 306, RJR)
RT: D.J. Park (6-4, 330, RJR)

Tennessee: The Vols return four starters and there is no doubt they can run block – UT averaged 223.69 yards per game last year – but either these guys have to pass block better or the OC needs to loosen things up because the passing game is very pedestrian. Jashon Robertson, Coleman Thomas, Dylan Wiesman and Brett Kendrick split up 41 starts last year. The only newbie is Drew Richmond at LT, who has to replace Kyler Kerbyson, last year’s best O-lineman.

Yards per rush 2015: 4.71

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 7.0

Sacks allowed 2015: 24

LT: Drew Richmond (6-5, 301, RFR)
LG: Jashon Robertson (6-3, 315, JR)

C: Coleman Thomas (6-5, 301, JR)
RG: Dylan Wiesman (6-4, 304, SR)

RT: Brett Kendrick (6-6, 318, RJR)

Texas A&M: The Aggies lost three starters from a disappointing O-line in 2015. Texas A&M averaged a very poor 6.9 yards per pass attempt and allowed 37 sacks even with a first round draft pick at LT in Germain Ifedi and a 3-year starter at C in Mike Matthews. Avery Gennesy and Jermain Eluemunor are the returning starters for new OL coach Jim Turner.

Yards per rush 2015: 4.35

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 6.9

Sacks allowed 2015: 37

LT: Avery Gennesy (6-5, 310, SR)

LG: Connor Lanfear (6-6, 320, SO)

C: Erik McCoy (6-4, 310, RFR)

RG: Jermain Eluemunor (6-4, 320, SR)

RT: Kodi Martin (6-6, 300, SO)

Vanderbilt: Vandy is optimistic its anemic offense will improve this year. There is plenty of experience and Andrew Jelks, who missed all of 2015, returns along with 21 games of starting experience at LT. Will Holden started 12 games last year at LT. He moves back to RT where he started 12 games in 2014. Barrett Gouger, Delando Crooks and Cole Hardin were in the regular rotation last year. If the guys in the middle can get the job done, Vandy has a couple of very good OT who can pass protect.

Yards per rush 2015: 3.75

Yards per pass attempt 2015: 5.5

Sacks allowed 2015: 28

LT: Andrew Jelks (6-6, 307, RSR)

LG: Delando Crooks (6-5, 310, RJR)

C: Cole Hardin (6-4, 300, RSO)

RG: Barrett Gouger (6-5, 308, RSR)

RT: Will Holden (6-7, 312, RSR)


Tuesday was a great day for the Gators in the NCAA Kohler Regional in Kohler Wisconsin. Behind a 68 from Alejandro Tosti and a 69 from Gordon Neale, the Gators charged to a 2-day score of -11, which is good for a 7-shot lead over national #1 ranked Illinois and a 9-shot lead over Florida State. Tosti leads the individual standings at -6 (138) after two rounds with Sam Horsfield tied for sixth at -1 (143) and Neale tied for 10th at even par (144).


Billy Donovan got a win on the road in the Western Conference finals. Now the Oklahoma City Thunder has a real advantage over the Golden State Warriors. I’m starting to believe the Thunder might be capable of making it to the NBA Championship Finals if Billy can keep Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the same page. If he can continue to get somewhere around 25 points and 20 rebounds per game out of his 2-headed center position of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter, Billy has a very good chance to score the upset.

As is their custom, the Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA Draft lottery. Again. This is the most inept organization in all of the NBA and maybe in all of pro sports. They make the Atlanta Braves front office look very average.

After seeing the Cleveland Cadavers blow out the Toronto Ruptures, 115-84, in the first round of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night, they might want to change the name of the song from “O Canada” to “No Canada.” This could be an ugly next three games if you are a Ruptures fan.

Is there a dumber NFL QB than Sam Bradford? He hasn’t accomplished anything and now he’s demanding a trade because the Philadelphia Eagles drafted QB Carson Wentz with the second pick.

The Braves are 9-29 out of the gate. I cannot bear to watch.

I think Preston Tucker is about to play himself back to AAA with the Houston DisAstros. He’s hitting below the Mendoza Line (.176) and has only one hit in his last 16 at bats.


Does the loss of Cam Robinson change your perception of Alabama’s chances to win the SEC in 2016?


Back in the day when Alvin Lee was healthy and on good terms with the rest of his band mates, Ten Years After was one of the best blues rock bands on the planet. Lee was with TYA from 1966-74, when the band was in its heyday but he left over disagreements with the direction of the band and music. He came back in 1983, and then again from 1988-2003 but TYA was never the same again. Lee died in 2013 of complications from a routine surgical procedure. Today’s music is TYA’s 1973 album “Recorded Live.”

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