The 2013 GT offensive line may have been the most maddening group this past season. Expectations were high coming in, as there were a lot of experienced returning players who had benefitted from years of game action and physical training. On paper, they appeared to be the most fearsome and physical group CPJ had put on the field since his arrival. However, a few untimely and unfortunate injuries, combined with frustrating penalties and blown assignments during game action nullified the potential of the group. Instead of carrying the team on their back, they became a part of the problem. Probably the most devastating loss of all was Morgan Bailey at RT. In 2012 he fought through a series of nagging injuries to make a huge impact in the second half of the year. Everything appeared to be looking up for the young man when he was beset with a sports hernia that he never truly recovered from. In addition to that, Ray Beno lost a great deal of time with a foot injury that caused a great deal of rotation in the line. The original starting group was depleted and it showed, as there was quite a drop off with the second unit (more on that later). Having reviewed the entire season on film I would say that the 2013 OL was the most physical at the point of attack that I have seen yet, but probably the most mistake prone as well. Go figure. GONE: are Ray Beno, Will Jackson, and Jay Finch. Ray, in addition to being able to stretch the field as a clutch WR (Duke 2012), was a punishing run blocker. His stocky frame and mean streak played very well in the drive blocking department. Many may not have noticed, but the kid hustled his rear end off too, following plays well down field when a lot of OLs would just quit and become a spectator. He always seemed to be in the right place, saving the day with a fumble recovery etc. His weak spot was pass protection, as he would occasionally get beat while barely getting a hand on the DE. Will Jackson, although probably the least physical of all the starting group, was the best technician and most versatile. He made up for a lack of strength by beating his man to the spot and getting leverage. He was very dependable and you rarely heard his name called because of getting beat. A lot was made of Sean Bedford as C for the Jackets, and rightfully so, as he was awarded ALL ACC honors his last year. We wondered how he would be replaced. IMHO Jay Finch was a clear upgrade over Sean. Some people hate to hear that, but I believe it to be absolutely true. Jay was stronger and more explosive, often handling his one on one assignments in easy fashion. I have no idea if he made the calls as good as Sean, but he would usually handle the guy in front of him and he had a lot of tough match ups throughout the season. Injuries slowed him at times, but he was a beast. He might lack prototype size for the NFL, but I bet the team that brings him to camp will do a double take. BACK WITH MEANINGFUL PLAYING TIME: are Shaq Mason - SR, 6-1, 305, Bryan Chamberlain - RJR 6-4, 290, Thomas O'Reilly - RJR, 6-3, 308, Trey Braun - RJR, 6-5, 292, Nick Brigham - RSO, 6-3, 300, and Chase Roberts - RSO, 6-3, 280. Shaq has been starting every year since he was a true frosh. He is good and he is experienced and will be an anchor type player at the G position. He gets into his man and has a lot of push. He can really drive block and is pretty good on the pull as well. Bryan had major problems trying to fill the shoes of Morgan Bailey. If the poor guy wasn't getting whipped he was false starting or turning somebody loose. I don't want to slam the guy too hard because he was thrust into the situation and he was trying. He will need to significantly improve if he wants to fight his way back off the bench in 2014. The simple truth is that he was overmatched in 2013 and the results were devastating. O'Reilly didn't get a ton of time in 2013 but I saw enough of him to be optimistic about the future. He generally handled himself well. He is a different kind of player than both Bedford and Finch, but I think he can be effective. He is a much bigger guy and does a good job of standing guys up and occupying them at the point of attack. He is a work in progress, but I think he will be pretty good. There didn't appear to be a big let down when he came in. Trey Braun went through some growing pains in 2013 being pushed into service for Beno, especially the VT game. While not taking the world by storm, I felt like he grew a little every week and improved over the course of the season. He may win a starting job, and if not, he will be one of the first guys who rotate in. Nick Brigham showed a bit of an attitude and mean streak. Another year in S&C will do wonders for him. The same goes for Chase Roberts. I think he was used before he was fully ready, but we had an emergency at RT we had to deal with. Roberts will at least fight you out there. He is a little small but he is tough. Pass protection was not his strong suit but he has time to work on it. ON THE FENCE: is Morgan Bailey. The sad thing is, he is probably our best guy if he was 100%. Whatever the outcome, I wish the kid the best of luck and I thank him for his contributions. NEW TO THE MIX: are Errin Joe - RJR, 6-3, 307, Freddie Burden - RSO, 6-3, 290, Shamire Devine - RFR, 6-7, 355, and Chris Griffin - RFR, 6-6, 272. If Errin played much last year, I totally missed it. Obviously Burden has gotten some positive press before his injury. Hopefully he is fully recovered and hungry to battle O'Reilly at C. That should be interesting. Devine is massive and, for a big guy, he has great feet. I just can't get that NIKE camp video out of my mind, much like Justin Thomas's, it keeps playing over and over in my head. The kid has it all in terms of size and ability. Lets hope the intangibles are a match. Reportedly, Griffin has a mean streak. He just needs to get bigger. I left all non scholarship kids off the list as well as any who have yet to sign LOIs. Not having ever seen these guys play, I really don't have a lot to offer. IN SUMMARY: I don't have a clear vision of what this line will look like next year. There are a lot of unanswered questions. There are big holes to fill, but people with a good potential to fill them. It is pretty much the opinion of every body that the 2013 version missed the mark a little. So long as we can play with sound TECHnique next year, I feel sure we won't notice a drop off. Pass pro, blocking at the second level, and penalties were last season's weaknesses. I am going to go on a limb and say we will protect the passer better and here is why; Devine showed me he could handle that task EXTREMELY well in his video against the best the country had to offer. Beno is gone and his replacement is likely to handle this aspect better. Chamberlain was a major cause of problems in 2013 and he will either improve or never see the field again. The guy we plug into C is going to be a bigger guy. With 3 bigs at the G-C-G spots and two with longer arms, it just has to get better. Not everybody was coming from the edge in 2013. Time will tell if this unit can be more disciplined and eliminate the mistakes. It is something controllable. It just has to happen. Our line is getting bigger each year. Hopefully they will keep the MESH points from blowing up. We are younger, for sure. That is usually not good, but my gut tells me we are more talented too.