Unit Ranking: B+
The Frogs return just two starters along the offensive line from the 2011 squad; James Fry and Blaize Foltz. Between the two linemen they have 27 career starts. Fry started 12 games in 2011 and did a remarkable job filling the shoes of Jake Kirkpatrick. Foltz has been steady on the Frogs line for the better part of the last two seasons and is the leader of the unit. James Dunbar has seen action as a backup in each of the last two seasons and Tayo Fabuluje is ready to nail down a tackle spot after sitting out a year after transferring from BYU. In 2011, the offensive line helped the Frogs running game average 208.62 yards per game, good for 19th in the country. They only allowed 12 sacks on the year as well.
What to watch: The battle at left tackleThe Frogs have been steady at left tackle for at least the last four years with Marshall Newhouse, Marcus Cannon and Jeff Olson excelling at the position. Newhouse and Cannon are on NFL rosters and Olson is expected to do the same. Entering the 2012 season, all eyes will be on the position yet again. James Dunbar was expected to play a big role at the position in 2011 but he wasn't ready to take the charge. He will be asked to take on the chore again but he will be pushed by Nykiren Wellington and freshman Carter Wall. If none of those three can handle the task, other who could get a look at the position are Michael Thompson, who played there before a season-ending injury and Tayo Fabuluje, who got reps at left tackle in the fall. This position will definitely be a fun one to watch.
Freshmen ready to step upNaff, Foltz, Wall and Thompson are all names Frog fans should become more familiar with. As part of the 2011 signing class, all four players have benefitted from a redshirt year and are ready to step up. Foltz, Brady that is, could see the quickest playing time as he battles with John Wooldridge at left guard. If Brady is anything like his older brother Blaize, the Frogs will have another bull inside. It won't be a cakewalk going against John Wooldridge, who slid over from right guard, but the battle is definitely going to be fun to watch. Wall got a lot of reps at right tackle in the fall, but he's always had the footwork that could make him a good left tackle. He will get his shot if Dunbar or Wellington stumble. Thompson came very close to playing as a true freshman. At one point during pre-season workouts, Thompson had worked his way all the way up to second team right tackle. Thompson is another lean tackle whose best strength is his reach. Naff, the former #1 guard prospect in Oklahoma adds another big body on the interior. Perfect for the Frogs move to the Big 12.
If he's healthy…If he's healthy, Michael Thompson could be the best lineman on the team, and one of the biggest. Thompson can be utilized at any of the interior positions and he even saw action at left tackle before his season ending injury. If he's ready to go in the spring, look for Thompson to nail down a starting position somewhere on the line, the only question is where.
Ready for the Big 12? The line is…When news hit of the Frogs moving to the Big 12 beginning in 2012, TCU fans and opposing fans remarked about how the teams in the conference have big offensive and defensive lines. Take this into account. If the Frogs roll out with Dunbar, Wooldridge, Fry, Foltz and Fabuluje, the line will average 306 pounds. As an entire unit, they average 304 pounds. Not too shabby.
- My way too early starting five after spring camp;
LT – Dunbar
LG – Brady Foltz
C – Fry
RG – Blaize Foltz
RT – Fabuluje
- If healthy, Michael Thompson starts at LG
- Fabuluje will see action at LT