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Looking Ahead - Offensive Line

Discussion in 'Georgia Tech Football' started by Boomergump, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. Boomergump

    Boomergump Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  2. gtg936g

    gtg936g Helluva Engineer

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    Another great write up Boomer. Knock on wood maybe we can get through the season without a lot of injuries.
     
  3. collegeballfan

    collegeballfan Helluva Engineer

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    Griffin is already in the 290+ range. Pencil him in as the starter at left tackle.
     
  4. stylee

    stylee Helluva Engineer Featured Member

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    Great post.
    Agree that Finch was a step up from Bedford. Jay hasn't received the recognition he deserves from Tech fans. He played extremely well in the last 2 years.
     
    Arkfbplayer52 and gtg936g like this.
  5. ATL1

    ATL1 Helluva Engineer

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    Great Post as Usual Boom.
    This is the group I waiting on for you to break down. Clearly one that troubled Tech last year.
    I posted earlier that the guard center guard position of Shaq O'Reilly Devine would be an average weight of 322lbs, no more getting pushed around and backwards.
    O'Reilly and Burden should be a great battle regardless
    Devine and Braun should be a good battle.
    The edge is where the concern begins.
    Who replaces Will Jackson and who is starting right tackle.
    I hope Chamberlain regains his confidence and is ready to fight to reestablish himself.
    The lines are where it all begins and fortunately or unfortunately for Tech this is a mystery for the team.
    We can only hope for improvement.
     
  6. Techster

    Techster Helluva Engineer

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    Good stuff, Boomer.

    I understand the importance of the C-G-C setup in our offense, but man, Devine to me is a franchise tackle. In any other offense, the coaches are putting him at LT and forgetting about that position for the next 3-4 years. He has that kind of ability. Tackles have been the most inconsistent spots for us over CPJ's tenure, especially in pass pro. So many time the DE's have beaten our tackles like they were revolving doors.

    One of the things I just thought about is 3rd/4th and short with a smaller QB like JT. Maybe his size isn't much of an issue with Devine at guard in those situations because hopefully Devine will be able to use his size (and hopefully strength) to just follow Devine up the middle.
     
  7. JazzyD95

    JazzyD95 Helluva Engineer

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    Saw griffin last night. Does not look in the 290+ range. He's young and looks like he is still growing though, so that's good. I think he'll be a major upgrade at whatever tackle spot he mans
     
  8. Eric

    Eric Retired Co-Founder Staff Member

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    When I last talked to him he was leaving workouts and had just weighed in that day and said he was 292 then...FWIW.

    He is tall though...I look forward to seeing him play. Have heard nothing but great things.
     
  9. Eric

    Eric Retired Co-Founder Staff Member

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    I am excited about the OL next year...I know we are going to have growing pains but it will be fun seeing the younger guys play and see what talent they have.

    By the way Errin Joe missed last season due to injury.
     
    ATL1 likes this.
  10. xenoabe

    xenoabe Ramblin' Wreck

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    I just want us to play a lot meaner than we have. I want us to fight for everything and play to the whistle.
     
  11. Jerry the Jacket

    Jerry the Jacket Helluva Engineer

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    Yeah the Goon Squad turned out to be more like the Goof Squad. We have some potential but we lost a lot of experience. I do not expect us to be as good next year as we were last year. Hopefully we will grow throughout the year and get better. The inside could be good but I am real concerned about the center position and getting the calls right. Burden just strikes me as immature and O'Reily seems out of shape. The tackles have not been good since Todd Spencer left. I don't think Sewak even pays that position much attention. I am concerned Chamberlin is a bust, Roberts will be a chronic injury problem and Griffin is learning on the job. Maybe we can convert some of our d linemen to offensive linemen. Guys like Kallon who do not seem to be getting it on the other side of the ball.

    Hopefully my skepticism will be proven wrong.

    Go Jackets!
     
  12. ATL1

    ATL1 Helluva Engineer

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    Burden hasn't touched the field ..
    I thought O'Reily played well *shrugs*
     
  13. Eric

    Eric Retired Co-Founder Staff Member

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    Burden hasnt had a chance to due to redshirt and injury...The coaches were excited about him before he got hurt. They thought he would be able to give Finch a few snaps off every game.
     
  14. OldJacketFan

    OldJacketFan Helluva Engineer

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    There is good talent on the O line, some inexperience but as a whole a talented bunch. Whenever you replace starters there are questions but I like how the line should shape up going into next season. Like always, with all teams, you have to stay healthy!
     
  15. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

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    Our OL had its issues this year, but I don't think that they were as bad as the rants against them suggest. It's not like we couldn't get anything going in any game.
     
  16. Techster

    Techster Helluva Engineer

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    This will easily be CPJ's most physically talented line since he's been at GT. The experience isn't there, but once it gets there they will perform at a higher level than anything we've had. I expect the line to struggle early as they all get accustomed to each other but once they get in rhythm, it will be a sight.

    I thought O'Reilly played pretty darn well in spots for Finch. I'm not so sure Burdon is just going to walk back in and get his spot back. I know O'Leary struggled a bit when he came in here from Auburn, but it looks he's blossomed at center. The guy moves really well for his size. This is the kind of competition we need throughout the team. Two talented guys fighting it out for a spot is exactly what's been missing throughout our lineup.
     
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  17. RamblinCharger

    RamblinCharger Helluva Engineer

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    I thought other than the rediculous amount of penalties, our OL was really physical up front. In fact I think a lot of our problems were caused by the QB making terrible reads and being shy. I'm worried about center but I think we'll be even more physical. If we can get a group of 6-7 that are healthy and can play together for most of the season I think we should upgrade overall. I too wonder why Devine isn't playing LT to protect our QB better in the pasing game. That just seems like a good position for him. I think if kalon isn't getting it on defense that he would make a great guard that could blow through his guy and create huge holes for the BB, maybe not just think out loud. I hope we improve here, BB, and at QB, if we manage to just stay the same on the OL and cut down on osme penalties we could be really good offensively again.
     
  18. Boomergump

    Boomergump Moderator Staff Member

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    Agree that Devine is a OT in most offenses. We must keep in mind that we don't run those offenses. I feel sure he ends up at guard here. I haven't thought about Kallon as an OL, but I have to admit, it sounds interesting. Based on his athletic ability, OT may be right for him. He is really pretty fast and jumpy for a guy over 3 bills. In general, I am more worried about DL than OL. He should stay there until it becomes obvious that it is not working. I agree with ramblin and 87. The knee jerk reaction that our OL was terrible in 2013 was really not looking much past the surface. When your offense is designed to be quick hitting and the plays develop slowly it can make the OL look terrible. Also if a QB never finds the check down but instead tries to force everything deep after retreating way deep in the pocket, it can also make you look bad. Put yourself in the opposing DCs head and you are scheming a pass rush against GT. Given Vad's proclivity to run straight back, I would tell the DEs to take a wide angle and rush deep. He won't step up. That alone will make it next to impossible for any OT to stop a DE. Typically they had the middle of the backfield flooded with LBs too knowing we don't dump it off much, thereby preventing the run out by a scrambling QB. Bottom line: Vad's pocket presence was terrible and it was very difficult to know where he was going. You combine that with wide splits and numbers being brought by the defense and you get what we got.

    The penalties seemed to come in bunches this year. There were some good stretches of clean play too. However, when they did come in bunches they were debilitating.
     
    GT Man likes this.
  19. ATL1

    ATL1 Helluva Engineer

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    Well Griffin has a good build for a Tackle as well maybe about 10-15 more lbs of mass.
     
  20. RamblinCharger

    RamblinCharger Helluva Engineer

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    I agree, if he is strong and athletic and can learn technique, he has a prototypical tackle body.
     

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