2012 Navy Report Card: Offensive Line

GoMids.com continues its review of the 2012 8-5 Navy Midshipmen's season, position-by-position. Today we review the Mid offensive line of 2012.

Offensive Line: C+
Navy's offensive line struggled early in the season when its rebuilt line played the toughest teams on its schedule. The Mids' offensive line had difficulties in pass protection as they allowed 24 sacks. On average, Navy's offensive line permitted a sack every seven pass attempts.

The one player that head coach Ken Niumatalolo did not have to worry about was left guard Josh Cabral who he referred to as "Mr. Steady". The senior offensive guard ended his career starting 38 consecutive games. Cabral was easily the Mids best lineman and a great technician. Cabral earned All-East honors and will be missed next season.

Senior Ryan Paulson was converted from defensive end last spring practice. Paulson was a lifesaver for the offensive line. He started all 13 games at left tackle. Paulson, despite having been a back-up defensive end for three years, earned All-East offensive line honors in his own year playing offensive tackle.

The new right guard this year was sophomore Jake Zuzek. Zuzek was the Naval Academy Prep School's 2010 Offensive MVP. Zuzek is a strong mauler who helped the Mids rank sixth in the nation in rushing. He started all 13 games and his play improved as he gained experience. Zuzek scored the game winning touchdown in overtime against Air Force when he alertly recovered quarterback Keenan Reynolds fumble in the end zone.

The center position was unsettled early in the year before the staff settled on sophomore Tanner Fleming. Fleming played in 13 games and started eleven at center. Tanner is an athletic, technically proficient center. He is a big effort player who just needs to be more consistent. Junior Graham Vickers was moved from left tackle to center this season where he started the opener. The next game he was moved to right tackle for the rest of the year. Vickers played in every game last season. He started every game except against East Carolina when he didn't start due to an injury. Vickers is athletic, strong and runs well for a lineman.

Sophomore Bradlyn Heap was moved from center to right tackle this year. Heap opened the season as starting right tackle and didn't play well. He lost his job but did start later in the year against East Carolina. Heap is a mobile lineman who moves well. He can get to the second level but he needs to play with more consistency. Junior Tom Stone appeared in every game and earned his first start against VMI. Stone offers decent size. The offensive line needs to develop some depth. The play of the backup offensive linemen during the spring game was horrid.

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