Kragthorpe has plenty of reasons to feel good about his first team offensive line. For one, he's got potential All-Americans at center and left tackle in Eric Wood and George Bussey. For another, Danny Barlow returns at guard after starting all 13 games last season. Right tackle Breno Giacomini has considerable game experience and sophomore guard Mike Donaghue appears ready to step into a starting role.
Kragthorpe's concerns begin beyond those five starters. A close examination of the two-deep depth chart on the offensive line reveals this: Only one player, backup center Nick Borgelt, has ever played a down in college; two true freshmen and a redshirt freshman; one junior college transfer with no experience playing on the offensive line.
"We've got some limitations in some areas in terms of having some guys that haven't played," Kragthorpe said. "If we put our second offensive line unit out there at the same time you'd have one guy that's taken a Division 1 college snap and two true freshman. There are certainly some areas on our football team that we're going to have to stay healthy to be the team that we want to be."
offensive line is very inexperienced.
After a month of preseason camp, Kragthorpe feels better about his depth up front.
"It's better than it was because it wasn't very good when we started," Kragthorpe said. "It's improving, but we're still going to have some guys that are going to walk out there and play in a football game that's their first snap."
Wood, a veteran who stepped in as a starter two years ago as a redshirt freshman, echoed his coaches concerns.
"I guess the concerns that I have are that some of these young guys might not play as well as they do in practice and that's always a concern when you have guys who have never played before," Wood said. "We have a lot of talent, but mostly the concern is the inexperience. But that will come with time."
Those young players might see some action against Murray State.
"Some guys react well with no experience and some guys don't," said Wood. "Like coach was saying, we'll see who can play under the lights Thursday night."
Wood said he's been impressed with both of the true freshmen who have cracked the depth chart, particularly 6-5, 300 pound left guard Mark Wetterer. Greg Tomczyk, 6-6, 290, is listed behind BUssey at left tackle.
"That shows that they have a lot of maturity," Wood said. "They've really progressed in camp and it seems they're getting better every day. That's a credit to them and to coach Myers and Coach Kragthorpe for coaching them along."
Like Wood, Wetterer is also a native of Cincinnati. Before signing with Louisville, Wetterer verbally committed to Michigan State but backed out when John L. Smith was fired. Michigan State's loss is now Louisville's gain.
"Mark is a heck of a freshman," Wood said. "Physically and mentally he's beyond his years as a freshman. He'll be a good player for us."