Offensive Line Preview (Part 2)
Davis and Kuykendall have that experience and they will be improved over their solid performances last season. Kuykendall was a little inconsistent at the start of last season, but after removed from the starting lineup for a game, he improved tremendously and finished the season well. The highlight of his year was the domination he put on Larry Triplett, the first round draft pick from Washington, in the Beavers 49-24 victory.
JC transfers Brandon Lockheart (6'7", 330) and Brent Bridges (6'2", 279) will compete for some time as well. Bridges was in spring practice and Erickson says he is "very athletic, a guy who fits into what we want." Lockheart will not enroll until the fall, though. He comes from Santa Monica College. It isn't known how much of an impact he will have this year. Erickson says, "he's got a chance to play." That usually means that if he comes to camp in shape, he will have a large role. But as is the case with any transfer, if Lockheart comes in out of shape, he is a candidate to redshirt. Juniors Brian Kilkenny (6'4", 285) and Matt Davis (6'4", 305) will be reliable backups, as well.
The offensive line has the talent to do well. But it was extremely difficult to get a read on their performance this spring when they had to go against the first team defensive line. Eric Manning, Dwan Edwards, and everyone else on the line make it extremely difficult to do much. But it was still a concern. The first two weeks, the defensive line was not giving out any room to operate. The running game was shut down and the pressure was being put squarely on the quarterback.
By the third and fourth weeks, the offensive line showed marked improvement. At the scrimmage the week before the spring game, the line gave Derek Anderson time to throw and he showed off his ability. The line also gave Steven Jackson some time to run. Given some room to operate, both Jackson and Anderson showed their talents. The offensive line must give them room if the offense is to be successful.
Being successful as an offensive line requires quite a bit of teamwork. The offensive line will determine how far the offense can go. The weakness of the offensive line last year contributed to the Beavers losing some games. But Coach Smith is one of the best teachers in the country and he will take this group as far as they want to go. The line is a weakness at this point. But by the end of the season, they will be a strength if they can come together.
Grade: C+ (potential to improve)
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