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USF 2014 Football Preview: Offensive Line

It all starts with the offensive line. This line has a lot of starts. Will it start up this year?

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface the line looks to be good. All of the starters on the preseason depth chart are are upperclassmen (three seniors and two juniors). The offensive line returns 100 starts, with 94 of those belonging to the five starters on the depth chart. They also get one starter back after a year out

But how many of those 100 starts were actually good performances?

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 88.9 2.37 2.04 27.3% 57.9% 22.3% 77.9 9.0% 6.6%
Rank 106 122 125 126 110 110 97 119 60

(Per Bill Connelly)

Last season the line was one of the worst in the country. It rated near the bottom (between 97th and 126th out of 126 teams) of every advanced stat except for sack rate on passing downs, where it was 60th. So unless it was a situation when everyone in the stadium knew a pass was coming, the line was getting stuffed on the run or giving up sacks and pressures in the passing game.

It's really hard to blame the QBs for passing poorly, and the backs for running poorly, if they couldn't get consistent push from the line.

Another year of coaching in the same seasons hould also help also should help. Also a big help is one returning face. Thor Jozwiak will return after missing all of last season with a heart condition. He won the starting job at LG this season. Jozwiak should be a big boost to the power running game that Taggart likes to run.

And one thing is for certain, they are bigger. Since the end of last season, the strength and conditioning staff must have them on some type of He-Man regimen, because the starters have added 77 lbs, averaging over 15 added lbs. each. Last season, they averaged 295.2 lbs. across the line; now it's up to 310.6 lbs.  Austin Reiter, Thor Jozwiak, and Darrell Willams have each added over 20 lbs. or more.

Since his arrival, Coach Taggart has constantly stressed the need to get stronger. This increased girth-iness may portend to a stronger line, one that can more successfully push the opposing team around. Here's hoping the increase in size is a sign that the line will be better.

Center

Senior Austin Reiter will start at center. This will be his third year starting and he has 24 career starts. He's packed on 23 lbs. in the offseason. Backing him up is Cameron Ruff, who redshirted his freshman year last season.

Guards

Senior Quinterrius Eatmon will start at RG, and junior Thor Jozwiak starts at LG. Eatmon has the most returning starts of any player on the team with 34; he's seemingly been starting on the line since the Leavitt era. Jozwiak is returning after sitting out last season. He's a junior, but let's hope he gets a medical redshirt for last season so he can play two more after this year.

The backups are sophomore Dominique Threatt and junior Clavion Nelson. Threat had 6 starts last season, but with Jozwiak. Nelson is converting to guard from defensive line, but he must have shown something in camp to be second on the two deep. Since Jozwiak is still coming back, these two might see significant action.

Tackles

Senior Darrell Willams and junior Brynjar Gudmundsson hold down the LT and RT spots, respectively. They each will enter their second year as a full-time starter.

Backing them up are junior Mak Djulbegovic and sophomore Kofi Amichia. Djulbegovic started two games last season, but Amichia didn't see any action.