Yeah, they're replacing three new starters, but have arguably the two top linemen in the conference coming back in tackle Jonathan Martin and guard David DeCastro. If Matt Bentler can get back to full strength, he should lock down the other guard spot. Center and one of the tackle spots is still being debated throughout fall camp with guys like Tyler Mabry, Cameron Fleming, David Yankey, Khalil Welkes, and Sam Schwartzstein battling it out for two spots. There's plenty of talent on the roster and they'll find the right group to make this the top offensive line unit in the conference. Their number 1 priority this season is going to be keeping quarterback Andrew Luck healthy.
2. Arizona State
No school has suffered a worse rash of injuries in the off season than the Sun Devils and the offensive line hasn't been exempt. Garth Gerhart could be the best center in the conference and and Evan Finkenberg can play. Andrew Sampson had the right guard spot locked up before and injury. His healthy is crucial to the success of the line. Mike Marcisz returns as a starter while Dan Knapp is returning from an injury and will be in the mix as well. If they can get healthy, this might end up being the best line in the conference with the amount of experience they have coming back.
The Bears return five players with starting experience, four of them with extensive experience, and and all of them upperclassmen. Mitchell Schwartz is the best of the bunch having been a starter at either tackle spot since his freshman season. He's got 38 career starts and was a 2nd team all Pac 10 selection a year ago. Junior Matt Summers-Gavin looks to have the right tackle spot locked down after making 18 career starts at different spots over the past two seasons. Guard Brian Schwenke can play either guard spot and started all 12 games last season. Guard Justin Cheadle has 22 career starts with 8 of them coming last season and gives the Bears even more experience along the line. Center Dominic Galas is the least experienced player with only 1 career start, but has played in 25 games over his career. This unit has a total of 91 career starts between them. Very impressive.
Center Drew Schaefer is back after starting all 13 games last season. He's fairly versatile after playing some tackle as well in 2010. Left tackle Senio Kelemete started all 13 games last season and is one of the strongest players on the team. The Huskies will run Chris Polk behind him often this season. Sophomore Erik Kohler lines up at the other guard spot after having started four games their a year ago and one at tackle. These three will be the meat and potatoes of the offensive line that aim to keep new quarterback Keith Price clean. Colin Tanigawa and Colin Porter round out the starters at the guard spots.
If there's one area on the team where Colorado has some strength it's on the offensive line where they return three starters. They may end up with a freshman at center with Daniel Munyer, which is a concern, but with guard like Ethan Adkins and Ryan Miller, this unit should be good and help Rodney Stewart towards a 1,500 yard season.
Does it really matter who lines up along the line for the Ducks? Just give the ball to LaMichael James and get out of the way, right? Oregon does return three starters including both tackles in Darrion Weems and Mark Asper, as well as guard Carson York. JC transfer Ryan Clanton is expected to fill in at the other guard spot. Center Karrington Armstrong has played in only one college game to this point. Because of the speed at which they play, the Ducks will shuffle in a lot of linemen to keep their guys fresh. Even if there are struggles to start, this group will find their way for one of the top rushing attacks in the country.
Oh where to rank the Bruins? The offensive line that has been continually snakebit with injuries, academic issues, and mission defectors, returns plenty of experience and talent, but with the rate that they tend to go down, projecting this unit is difficult to do. Returning after missing last season is Jeff Baca, who was injured in the spring, but will return after missing the first few games. Center Kai Maiava returns after missing 2010 and should be one of the best in the conference. Mike Harris will be in his third year as a starter and Sean Sheller returns as well. If they can get solid play out of a youngster like Chris Ward, and avoid injury while building some depth, the Bruins offensive line could end up being one of the top four or five in the conference.
8. Oregon State
When healthy, Michael Philip is one of the top lineman in the conference. He struggled through an injury filled 2010, and is still battling for a starting spot this year, but when fully sound, he's an elite lineman and should settle into one of the tackle spots. Three other starters are back from a group that struggled in 2010 giving up numerous sacks and not helping the running backs put up the numbers of previous years. Tackle Mike Remmers has 32 career starts and 25 in a row, making him one of the most experienced players on the team. With four of the five projected starters upperclassmen, this group is bound for a better season in 2011.
No team is as desperate for offensive lineman as the Utes. They've got three rocks at arguably the three most important spots with Tevita Stevens manning the center position and John Cullen and Tony Bergstrom at the tackles. Each of those three has the potential to be an all conference lineman, and will be counted on heavily with a lack of experience at guard. If the oft-injured Sam Brenner can stay healthy, he'll likely have the left guard spot locked up, but he's missed much of fall camp and hasn't proven that he can stay injury free. Jeremiah Tofaeono has settled in at right guard for the time being, but is short on experience. Tackle Kapua Sai is reliable and provides the Utes a solid option off of the bench on either side. The biggest issue for the Utes might end up being depth. Injuries and a lack of academic qualifiers have left the line way too thin. There are too many freshman and inexperienced players being counted on in the two deep rotation. If they can't keep Jordan Wynn healthy, and after a fall camp scrimmage in which they yielded an unreal 12 sacks, the Utes are in for a tough year.
Center Khaled Holmes is making the Tevita Stevens switch and moving over from guard where he was very productive in 2010. He'll be one of the anchors along with line with left tackle Matt Kalil. Kalil is an all conference talent and might be the best left tackle in the conference. This should be his last season at SC as he has NFL written all over him. Outside of those two, it's going to be a patchwork line of inexperience. Senior Martin Coleman and true freshman Aundrey Walker are massive with an average height and weight of 6-5.5 and 355 pounds. The other tackle will likely be Kevin Graf who came out of high school highly regarded. Don't be surprised if true freshman Cyrus Hobbi makes a push at one of the guard spots or John Martinez gets into the mix as well. There's just not a ton of depth on the line right now. Regardless of who's on the field, the number 1 priority is to protect QB Matt Barkley. If Barkley goes down, the Trojans have two true freshman and a redshirt freshman behind him.
11. Washington State
The Cougars do get three starter back from last season and will have four senior starters, but they have up an astounding 51 sacks in 2010. Sometimes having starters come back isn't necessarily a good thing when they're that bad. Considering much of the Washington State success depends on QB Jeff Tuel, who needs to stay healthy, this group better improve quickly.
The Wildcats will be replacing all five starters on their offensive line. Hopefully Nick Foles has increased his elusiveness. Regardless of who steps in this year, they start at the bottom.
Pac 12 Unit Rankings- Offensive Line
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