It’s only fitting that we start our preseason preview by highlighting the units that are traditionally the most overlooked; the offensive and defensive lines.
Offensive Line—Grade B-
While QB Matt Johnson received much of the praise last year for the success of BCU’s vaunted “Speedway Offense”, it is the offensive line that deserves much of the credit. All American Center Natiel Curry leads the men upfront. The Senior from Miami Norland appears on numerous preseason All-American and “Watch List”. Tackles Marquell Rozier and Alex Monroe join Curry as returning starters on the O-Line. The Cats will have to replace both starting guards from last year’s squad. Expect Junior College transfers Stavion Lowe and Blake Pritchard to compete for starting positions and add depth in the trenches. Lowe, a 4-star recruit who originally signed with LSU in 2009, projects well at both guard and tackle. http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/player-Stavion-Lowe-64825
The Wildcat offensive line had their share of struggles inside the Redzone in 2010. It’s hard to know if their redzone woes were a result of play-calling, scheme, or execution. What is known is that this unit must iron out their redzone issues and produce better results inside their opponents’ 20 yardline if they hope to improve upon last year’s success.
Last year’s defensive front was solid. They didn’t get pushed around, but they didn’t make as many “splash plays” as the faithful would have liked. They also seemed to struggle getting lined up properly from time to time. However, this description of the group does not describe the play of defensive end Ryan Davis. The stud from Tampa Blake led the team with 6.5 sacks and shared the team lead for the most ‘tackles for loss’ with 14. The coaches believe he has next level talent and that offenses must account for him at all times. Erik Williams and Eugene Solomon are solid players who could blossom into difference makers in their 2nd year in this defense.
The greatest void along this front a year ago was the lack of a consistent inside push against the pass and an interior anchor against the run. Harold Love, a Feather River Community College transfer, may provide the type of consistent productivity missing from the tackle position a year ago. He seems to possess the type of off-the-ball explosiveness required to be a disruptive force in the middle. But Love may not have been the biggest addition to the defensive line this past offseason. The Wildcats signed Coach Earl Lane to be their new defensive line coach. Yes, that Earl Lane; the former LSU defensive line coach who helped the Bayou Tigers earn a BCS championship and helped Glenn Dorsey win the Lombardi and Outland Awards in 2007.
Fueled by the off the field leadership of Lane and the one the field play of Ryan Davis, we expect this bunch to be the most improved unit on the Wildcats’ squad. Our grade; C-
Upcoming preview–Backs and Receivers