Conference Preview: Offensive Line

How can you tell that the offensive line has improved from a year ago? It's right there in the numbers.

226.3. 4.8. 0. The first number is the Longhorns' average rushing yards per game. The second is the team's average yards per carry. And the third is how many sacks the team has allowed since the opener. All are great indicators of why this year's Texas line is superior to those of the last few seasons.

It all started with an inspired move when new offensive line coach Stacy Searels elected to start redshirt freshman Dominic Espinosa at center, moving the line's most experienced player, David Snow, out to left guard. The move was two-fold. For one, Espinosa has been fantastic and looks like a four-year starter and future all-conference candidate. And secondly, Snow has teamed with left tackle Tray Allen to form a dominant left side, one that has paved the way for the majority of the Longhorns' rushing yards.

That's not to say that theta right side should be neglected. Trey Hopkins is another future all-conference candidate at tackle, and Mason Walters has picked up where he left off at guard. The whole group combines mobility and a physicality not seen from recent Longhorn lines, something that has come out in spades in the fourth quarter. In the final stanza, Texas has been able to run the ball (and the clock), allowing the Longhorns to put up 28 fourth-quarter points to their opponents' zero. And they've looked comfortable in all phases of the game, whether run-blocking, pass-protecting or clearing the way for a trick play.

Add in the fact that young players have been able to rotate through, and that the staff feels great about true freshmen like Josh Cochran and Sedrick Flowers (both of whom have earned spots on the second team), and this has been one of the stronger groups on the team. There's a lot to like here.

Quick Hit Analysis: Searels has done a great job of rotating players to find the best fit, and the result has been a line that is tough, athletic and deeper-than-expected. They've faced some pretty good, and physical, defensive linemen already this year, a good test for conference play.

Grade: A

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