If I had to pick the O-Line Starters....

<b>NU</b> Coach <b>Randy Walker</b> already had a good idea about who would start up front for the <b>Wildcats</b> in 2003.<br><br> But the injury bug, and some stepped up play caused one lineup shuffle, and left da Coach feeling a little better about the <i>big men up front.</i>

The only question left for the Offense coming out of Camp Kenosha was the Right Guard position.

Originally it was supposed to be Soph Greg Lutzen [6-4 290].

But he went down with an injury that caused him to miss most of camp causing even more speculation about the possibility of a Freshman earning a spot up front. We heard reports of Frosh Trevor Rees [6-2 275] working with the first unit, but that apparently was an early camp experiment. There were also reports of praise for the other frosh center, Austin Matthews [6-5 280].

But in the final analysis, I would expect that the first snap O-Line will be all upper classmen.

So, [drum roll please], barring final week injuries, here's the 1st team starters, charged with opening holes for Jason Wright and protecting Brett Basanez:

Tight End
Left Tackle
Left Guard
Right Guard
Right Tackle
Ray Bogereif
[6-3 260 Sr]
Trai Essex
[6-4 305 Jr]
Ike Ndukwe
[6-5 325 Jr]
Matt Ulrich
[6-2 305 Jr]
Bill Newton
[6-7 310 Jr]
Zach Strief
[6-7 335 So]

This should be an O-line that plays this way for the season, barring any major injuries. Primary backups are probably RS Freshman Rick McDole [6-6 315] at Tackle, RS Junior Donnie Baskin [6-2 295] and RS Freshman Joe Tripodi [6-3 290] at Guard. I also suspect that Rees and maybe even Matthews could see some action, although many of us would prefer that they take the redshirt and get to play longer for the Wildcats.

What else could change the lineup?

Somebody really falls down on coverage - and if it happens, McDole has shown that he can play tackle if Streif has to move to the left side. The coaches also liked Tripodi's potential last Fall.

At least there are a couple of guys this year, who can come in to give the starting 5 a break.

What I really like is the size up front: The front 5 average 316 lbs, a big load to move if we're passing, and big enough to open a few holes.

In any case - It all starts on the Offensive Line - and unlike last year, I think we just might be able to start the season without any questions.

-- da Coach

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