2006 Fall Preview: Offensive Line

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - If there is one unit on a football team that can go from good to great because of great coaching, it is the offensive line. With new offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, the unit appears to be playing with a refreshed enthusiasm and sense of confidence.

Mario Cristobal has impressed the players with his teaching techniques and excitement.

"Coach Cristobal is a lot more detailed and he works with players so much better," senior Alex Pou said. "He helps us understand a lot more and players are getting things quicker. He is an intense guy and he is serious. He knows when to get on us, but he also knows when to back off us a little bit. He knows we will be affected by how he approaches us in practice."

Miami's offensive line must improve from their dismal 2005 season. The ‘Canes allowed 36 sacks during the season—their most in over five seasons. At tackle, Coker is concerned about the lack of depth. At guard, there is plenty of depth, but too many players that have been inconsistent at times. With only one returning starter, the 2006 offensive line will have to learn on the fly.

77 Reggie Youngblood (6-5, 305 Soph.)
76 Chris Rutledge ( 6-5, 325 R-Fr.)

72 Andrew Bain (6-3, 330 Jr.)
70 AJ Trump (6-3, 294 R-Fr.)

78 Anthony Wollschlager (6-4, 288 Sr.)
63 Alex Pou (6-4, 286 Sr.)

71 Derrick Morse (6-4, 326 Jr.)
65 Matt Pipho (6-7, 290 R-Fr.)

67 Tyrone Byrd (6-7, 295 Soph.)
73 Cyrim Wimbs (6-3, 335 Jr.)
79 Chris Barney (6-5, 340 R-Fr.)

Reggie Youngblood
Youngblood has seemingly lived up to the hype that accompanied him out of high school. Now it is time to show it on the field. Coker continually praised Youngblood throughout the spring—going so far as to say he is not concerned about the left tackle position for next season.

Spring Quote: "Me and Pata go at it everyday. It helps me a lot of in ways you cannot imagine. He has speed and power. He is a good player and it makes me bring my stuff everyday.

Andrew Bain
Bain showed the most improvement of any offensive lineman last spring. Coaches said Bain was very powerful and explosive off of the football. Bain is by far the strongest player on the team. Bain has yet to scratch the surface of his potential. If Bain can tap into his power and combine it with sound technique, he should be a good guard for the ‘Canes in 2006.

Spring Quote: "I think we are gelling real well. We have some young tackles, but besides that we are fine. The inside guys are veterans, so it solidifies our inside, which helps our tackles too. I think we are playing well and off the field we are getting along well. We just have good chemistry going on right now."

Anthony Wollschlager
Wollschlager is the unquestioned leader and most polished player of the unit. After battling nagging injuries in the offseason last year, Wollschlager was finally healthy this summer and gained more than 10 pounds of muscle. He is the only returning starter along the offensive line in 2006 and has assumed a leadership role for the entire offense. Defensive linemen and coaches constantly praised Wollschlager's play and leadership abilities this past spring.

Spring Quote: "As an offensive lineman, it is basic stuff that needs to be done everyday; stay low, keep your feet moving, keep your hands inside. Just real nitty gritty technique things I feel I can make a lot better.

Derrick Morse
After Wollschlager, Morse is the most experienced offensive lineman on the roster. In 2005, Morse spent most of the season recovering from a shoulder injury that occurred during summer camp. In 2004, Morse started six games for UM. Morse plays with a mean streak and brings intensity to the o-line. He is back up to his preferred playing weight of 326 pounds after weighing 295 pounds last year.

Spring Quote: "Our offensive line, ever since I have been here, has not been the best ever. That is comparing to the 2001 offensive line and that is where we are trying to get to. We are on our way. We are starting with the best spring the offensive line has had since I have been going here against the defense.

Tyrone Byrd
After playing at every offensive line position for UM, sophomore Tyrone Byrd looks like he will stay at his most natural and comfortable position—right tackle. Coker will be the first to tell you that Byrd still has a long way to go as far as technique, but his potential and athleticism would make any offensive line coach salivate. Byrd has gained 15 pounds since last season, currently weighing 295. If Byrd can improve his technique he will be a great right tackle for UM.

Spring Quote: "I feel a rejuvenation with this team and with the new coaches everyone is working hard to get spots. It is fun again. Before it was more like a job. It was fun before, but now it is like ‘I'm just going to ball out and hit you as hard as I can and when the day is over we are going to get burgers.'"

A.J. Trump
During the spring Cristobal said that Trump has all the physical tools to be a great lineman, however, he needs to improve on the mental aspects of the game along with his technique. Trump will push starters Morse and Bain for playing time and will be the first guard to see playing time should either of the starters go down with an injury.

Spring Quote: {Last year} went well, but the redshirt kind of sucks. It is one of those things in life you have to deal with and I have an opportunity to start this year, so it is good to get that year of sitting out of the way. I learned just how to be a college football player. It is a lot different from playing in high school. There are new concepts to learn and you have to adjust to the speed of the game.

Alex Pou
Pou impressed coaches during the spring with his motor and athleticism. He feels rejuvenated and refreshed under the guidance of Coach Cristobal. Pou brings veteran leadership to the unit and is versatile enough to play guard if needed.

Spring Quote: We are looking way better {than last year}. I think we are a lot tighter group this year. The whole offensive line as a group is real tight. We all understand each other and are learning to trust the guy next to you.

Cyrim Wimbs
Wimbs is slated as the backup right tackle to Tyrone Byrd. Wimbs needs to develop quicker feet to become an effective tackle. Also, Wimbs must improve his conditioning to get down to the 315-320 pounds range.

Spring Quote: {The line's improvement} has been good, but it ain't where it needs to be. I know we are going against number one defense in the world {in practice}, but we need to be able to move cats off the ball.

Chris Rutledge
Rutledge is much like Wimbs; he must improve his quickness and conditioning. He fought through nagging injuries throughout the spring and now, healthy he has a chance to show improvement.

Spring Quote: Coach Cristobal is a great guy. He was recruiting me when he was at Rugters and he was a big factor in me almost going to Rugters. Now that he is here, he makes playing a lot easier. He communicates with you and lets you know what you are doing wrong and what you are doing good. It is a lot easier to talk to him. He is very fiery. He loves the game and is about the game. He doesn't want anyone going less than 110 percent.

Matt Pipho
Pipho is probably still a season away from seeing significant time in 2006. He is battling for spots along the second-team offensive line. Pipho has showed a strong work ethic during his tenure at UM and figures to be a key starter for UM down the road.

Spring Quote: "My strength on the football field is that I hope I am coachable. Whenever Coach Cristobal tells me to do something I try to do it as hard as I can and give 100 percent effort."

Chris Barney
Barney arrived at UM last year too big and out of shape weighing more than 365 pounds. He has done a good job of shedding that weight, now 340 pounds, but he still needs to drop 15-20 pounds. He is another player who will be a key to the offensive line down the road.

Spring Quote: "{Coach Swassey} has been a big difference in my conditioning. From what I have seen, he has been able to get people's weight down and a lot of people become stronger and faster. When you look at the pros that come from UM and they are just better because down here the strength program is serious. Coach Swassey has helped me a lot by pushing me. I am still trying to get better conditioning wise, but I am getting there.


Of the freshmen, Orlando Franklin has the best chance to snag a starting role at right tackle. At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, Franklin is physically ready to play college football. Franklin will probably start the season with the second unit, but by the end of the season he may be the starter for UM. Ian Symonette, Jason Fox, and Joel Figueroa are all promising prospects in the future and will most likely redshirt the 2006 season.

David Lake can be reached at lake@canestime.com

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