I think we all know that the offensive line is the most important position group on the team. So it was pretty obvious that things weren’t right with the previous staff when the 2018 season ended with the roster being comprised of nearly double the amount of receivers as there were offensive linemen. The eight guys that were leftover included a JUCO linemen that hadn’t played, a former walk-on, and a guy who ended up quitting the game all together.
Scott Satterfield held no punches when he addressed the roster issues by pointing out what I did above. He then made the smart move to identify high school offensive linemen that they could bring in that fit the system instead of raiding the JUCO ranks. That should help them long term as they only have one senior listed as a starter right now and could have four starters return with a full group of experienced linemen behind them.
The top player on the line is Mechi Becton at left tackle. Becton told the media that he has shed twenty pounds since the new staff took over and he feels faster and quicker. That is a great sign for the offense as he will be run blocking outside of his area much more this year. Petrino’s offense seemed to avoid running to Becton’s side for god knows what reason but Becton was the best run blocker by a wide margin last season. He should really fit well with Caleb Chandler to make up a strong left side of the offensive line.
The center spot will be battled out by T.J. McCoy and Cole Bentley. Fall camp started with Bentley running with the first group but I tend to think that McCoy will win the spot by the Notre Dame game. McCoy was a starter at Florida before he suffered an injury and I think his experience at the spot will win out. Bentely might end up being a starter at a different spot but at the very least the staff will have options at a position that hasn’t been very good since 2013.
Robbie Bell and Tyler Haycraft were listed as the guys who would man the right side of the line when the summer depth chart was released. Bell missed most of last season after an offseason injury but never really got back on the field when he was healthy. I think Bell could be a guy that surprises us with his play. Bell had some issues firing off the ball when he was a center but held his own plenty of times. I think he could be a much better player after moving away from center.
Haycraft is a bit of a wildcard as a former walk-on who hasn’t seen the field all that much. The staff has mentioned him as a player they’ve been impressed with so my hope is that he is a good fit for the new scheme. I also don’t think it would be out of the question for Haycraft to be the odd man out if they chose to start McCoy and also want to play Bentley.
Depth is a major concern for the offensive line as the staff will likely have to rely on Adonis Boone as a “swing” lineman who can play multiple spots when needed. Zach Williamson is freshman that got here in the spring and had the entire summer to work on his body and learn the system. He will likely be a guy that they end up playing as opposed to redshirting. Joshua Black could also see the field in more than the four games alloted to redshirt.