Season Preview: Offensive Line

Led by three seniors, the Hurricanes have what many believe is the nation's best offensive line, and they proved it last season. Nine of the top ten players are back.

Coach: Art Kehoe

The Starters: LT Bryant McKinnie (6-9, 335, SR), LG Sherko Haji-Rasouli (6-6, 326, JR), C Brett Romberg (6-3, 293, JR), RG Martin Bibla (6-4, 300, SR), and RT Joaquin Gonzalez (6-5, 295, SR)

The Backups: Vernon Carey (6-5, 345, SO), Joe Fantigrassi (6-4, 270, JR), Carlos Joseph (6-5, 322, R-FR), Brad Kunz (6-7, 315, R-FR), Joe McGrath (6-5, 288, SO), Chris Myers (6-5, 280, R-FR), Scott Puckett (6-3, 283, SR), Joel Rodriguez (6-3, 277, R-FR), James Sikora (6-5, 267, SO), Ed Wilkins (6-4, 318, JR), Jim Wilson (6-5, 248, JR), Robert Bergman (6-5, 275, FR), Rashad Butler (6-5, 290, FR), and Tony Tella (6-5, 265, FR)

The Good Stuff: McKinnie is the best offensive lineman in the college game. Protecting Ken Dorsey's blindside as a junior, he did not allow a sack and totally dominated some pretty good competition (FSU's Jamal Reynolds, Florida's Alex Brown, and Pitt's Bryan Knight). Gonzalez is entering his fourth season as a starter and was a first team All-America selection as a junior last season. Bibla has started 28 games at right guard. Romberg started all 12 as a sophomore last season. In all, the Hurricanes' starting unit has a combined 99 starts of experience. They paved the way for a 1,000 yard runner last season and only allowed three sacks. Depth is the best it's ever been on a UM offensive line, and they're the hardest working unit on the team.

Potential Worries: The Hurricanes are outstanding at every spot except left guard, where they're still unsure about a starter. Haji-Rasouli has the upper hand as two a days continue, but he's being pushed by Wilkins and Carey. None of the three have ever started a game at the college level, so it's a position that must play well early in the season if the Hurricanes want to be the best unit around collectively.

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