Competition Fierce On O-Line Heading Into Fall

The much-anticipated improvements in Texas&#146; running game will not materialize until it first begins up front. The fact that offensive guards/centers coach <B>Tim Nunez</B> was the only coach canned on <B>Mack Brown&#146;s </B>staff last year is evidence that the team needs -- and expects -- vast improvements from its big uglies for the offense to click. The competition for playing time on the O-line was fierce during the spring, but will the fortitude be as fierce when leveled at opponents?

Former tackles and tight ends coach Mac McWhorter is the firebrand responsible for revitalizing the offensive line, and what a joy is was during spring drills to hear his bellowing exhortations -- to put it mildly. (Hard to believe that McWhorter introduced blocking sleds to his unit, until you recall that last year‘s crew couldn‘t drive-block a snowman.)

No small part of the improvements we expect next fall is the infusion of young (and BIG) talent among the ranks where no starting spot is a given. Both junior Jason Glynn (6-2, 275) and sophomore Will Allen are "neck and neck" in their competition for the starting center position.

"Going into two-a-days, we’ll see who separates out," Brown said. "We feel like we’re developing enough depth where both guys can play if he had to."

The forecast here is that Allen takes over. Glynn, last year’s starter, gives up 22 pounds and two inches to the challenger. He also gave up his starting spot to Allen during most of the first three offensive series of the annual Orange-White game, March 29.

The other news is that (after further review) RS-freshman Justin Blalock (6-4, 340) has moved ahead of RS-sophomore William Winston (6-7, 350) for the right tackle spot start. During the latter part of spring training, Brown said Winston had the starting nod were the season to begin tomorrow. (It was probably a motivational tool, but it’s hard to imagine an O-line that didn’t feature both of this big’uns.)

Like the center position, Brown said both guys are "neck and neck" before adding, "Justin would start if we were playing tomorrow and he would be backed by Will."

Following the excruciating North Texas game last year, I honestly thought Blalock would lose his redshirt by the time the Horns teed it up against North Carolina. Now, the USA Today All-American from Plano East has the chance to prove why he was also The Sporting News choice as the nation’s 15th-best high school prospect overall in 2002.

Meanwhile, Winston played in every game last season on the field goal and PAT units and saw action in six outings as a backup tackle. Understandably nicknamed "Big Will", Winston helped move the pile for quarterback Vince Young while a three-year letterman at Houston Madison.

Coaches want both Blalock and former defensive tackle Stevie Lee (6-4, 210) to be able to be able to play at both the guard and tackle spots (much like dearly departed All-American Derrick Dockery did last season).

Sophomore Mike Garcia (6-3, 315) will replace Dockery in the starting five. The Houston Galena Park product saw action in eight games last season.

RS-sophomore Jonathan Scott (6-7, 297) will be the man at left tackle after starting seven games last year at right tackle. The Dallas Carter product was The Sporting News’ selection on the Big 12 All-Freshmen team.

The only senior on the offensive front, left guard Tillman Holloway anchors the line and has emerged as the vocal leader of the unit, Brown said.

NOTE: The next issue of the Inside Texas magazine, available in May, provides detailed analysis of depth chart projections one full month before the glut of summer football publications hit the newsstands. For ordering info on the IT magazine, click here.

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