Position Preview: Offensive Line

The Texas offense ran like a well-oiled machine last season and a big reason for it is the play along the offensive line. Who will be the hogmollies responsible for protecting the young quarterbacks and clearing the way for the Texas backs?

Tackles:

Justin Blalock, 6-4, 329, Sr
Greg Dolan, 6-7, 290, Soph
Tony Hills, 6-6, 295, Jr
Adam Ulatoski, 6-8, 290, Fr-RS
Roy Watts, Jr., 6-6, 290, Fr
J'Marcus Webb, 6-8, 280, Fr

Guards:

Buck Burnette, 6-3, 295, Fr
Cedric Dockery, 6-4, 315, Soph
Chris Hall, 6-4, 280, Fr-RS
Steve Moore, 6-5, 275, Fr
Kasey Studdard, 6-3, 305, Sr

Centers:

Dallas Griffin, 6-4, 275, Jr
Lyle Sendlein, 6-5, 305, Sr
Charlie Tanner, 6-4, 280 Fr-RS
Brett Valdez, 6-4, 305, Sr

(Note: Freshmen are listed simply as OL. We listed them in the positions we project them to end up playing).

Projected Staters:

LT – Tony Hills
LG – Kasey Studdard
C – Lyle Sendlein
RG – Cedric Dockery
RT – Justin Blalock

Last season the Texas Longhorns were No. 1 in the nation in scoring (50.2 ppg) and No. 2 in rushing offense (274.9 ypg). One of the biggest reasons for that success was the play of the offensive line and Texas returns three starters, and a fourth (Tony Hills) who played significantly and in game-on-the-line situations, from its national championship squad.

Anchoring the unit at right tackle will be Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award preseason candidate Justin Blalock. At the conclusion of last season, Blalock was named third-team All-American by the AP and first team All Big XII by the AP, Austin American-Statesman, Big XII Coaches, Dallas Morning News, Forth Worth Star-Telegram and Kansas City Star.

This year, to go along with the award watch lists he's earned his way on, he's on almost everybody's preseason All-American list (Athlon, Lindy's, Playboy and The Sporting News to name a few). The senior has also become an important source of leadership for the 2006 Longhorns and is always giving advice to the young players, especially the freshmen quarterbacks.

The biggest loss from the offensive front is left tackle Jonathan Scott, who now makes his home in Mo-Town, playing for the Detroit Lions alongside former Longhorns Roy Williams, Cory Redding, Will Matthews and Shaun Rogers. Replacing Scott at left tackle will be his back-up from 2006, Tony Hills.

Hills was a Parade All-American and earned third-team all-state as a tight end at Alief Elsik High School in Houston, but was converted to offensive line when he got to Texas and got bigger and stronger in a hurry. He sat out his first fall semester of college after successive knee surgeries and has been nicked up here and there (Hills missed two games last season due to an elbow injury), but is back to 100% and has potential to be a great offensive lineman.

Blalock and Hills will be backed up by sophomore Greg Dolan, who played in eight games last season, and redshirt freshman Adam Ulatoski

Ulatoski has looked very promising after recovering from a back injury that delayed his start at UT by a semester and there was consideration about moving Blalock in to right guard and putting the 6'8" former Southlake Carroll juggernaut as the starter at right tackle. But, ultimately it was decided that Blalock would stay at right tackle and Cedric Dockery would get the nod as the starting right guard.

Dockery is the younger brother of Washington Redskins offensive lineman Derrick Dockery and according to their high school coach, Flint Risien of Lakeview Centenniel, Cedric blocked with better technique than his older brother.

The left guard spot will be manned by returning senior Kasey Studdard, who has been the starter at left guard for 25 consecutive games. Studdard was picked preseason second team All-American by Lindy's and The Sporting News and has an intimidating presence on the field, basically looking to hit as many people as possible on any given play.

The guards will likely be backed-up by redshirt freshmen Chris Hall and Charlie Tanner and senior Brett Valdez (Valdez and Tanner are also back-ups at center).

The third returning starter on the line is center Lyle Sendlein. He was originally recruited as a defensive end, but ended up becoming the starting center for the reigning national champions and is on the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which goes to the nation's top center. His primary back-up, junior Dallas Griffin, also returns.

Mack Brown has said he wants his line to be two-deep with quality at every position, and OL coach Mac McWhorter likes to keep his guys fresh by rotating throughout the game, so if the back-ups prove capable of game-on-the-line snaps, they'll get a lot of them.

The performance of the offensive line was crucial last season as UT set multiple offensive records and the OL may actually be even more integral to the Longhorns' success this year as a freshman signal-caller will be standing behind them on each play.

Monday, July 24: QBs
Tuesday, July 25: RBs
Wednesday, July 26: WRs
Thursday, July 27: TEs
Friday: July 28: OLs

Monday, July 31: DEs
Tuesday, Aug. 1: DTs
Wednesday, Aug. 2: LBs
Thursday, Aug. 3: DBs
Friday, Aug. 4: Special Teams


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