Spring practice begins this week so we will breakdown each position group as we gear up for football season. Note: We will not guess on what impact freshmen who are not on campus yet will have on the team.
Position Coach: Allen Mogridge (First season at USF)
Key Losses: RG William Atterbury (39 starts), RT Marcus Norman (46 starts)
Key Returners: LT Donovan Jennings , LG Demetris Harris , C Brad Cecil.
Coming into the 2019 season, the general thoughts surrounding the offensive line was that it would improve on a rough 2018 campaign where they allowed 38 sacks. After all, everybody who started the Gasparilla Bowl was returning, and continuity typically helps in the success of offensive lines.
Oh, how young and naive we were.
Instead of improving on that number, the OL regressed. MIGHTILY. They allowed a total of 45 sacks last season, that was good for 126/130 in the FBS. Some of that could be chalked up to a more complex system under Kerwin Bell and they did seem to improve slightly as the season went on. But bottom line, it wasn’t good enough for the AAC, which is why there’ll be a new crop of coaches roaming the practice fields on Tuesday.
Which brings us to a look ahead at the 2020 season. New head coach Jeff Scott has a few returning starters to the line with the entire left side set to return another year older and wiser.
The good news is that Scott hired Allen Mogridge away from FIU to be the offensive line coach for the Bulls. While at FIU, his lines ranked in the top 10 in sacks allowed in 2018 (8) & 2019 (14).
There’s three returning starters for the Bulls and only added one incoming freshman on National Signing Day, so don’t expect to see a massive influx of new talent in the group.
The left side of the line seems to be set with Jennings and Harris returning, but with a new staff in place and a severe lack of solid production from the unit as a whole, there couple realistically be five completely different starters in 2020.
Though they only signed one member of the OL in this year’s recruiting cycle, USF has plenty of returning bodies. But the biggest question here is, if they couldn’t get on the field during last season’s rough OL play, should we have faith that they can make a dramatic leap with the help of a new staff? Guys like Jean Marcellus, Matthew McDuffie, Jarrett Hopple, Michael Wiggs, Sebastian Sainterling, and Dustyn Hall who have been on campus a while but haven’t gotten much time on the field, will have a clean slate and can try to earn their way on the field when spring ball starts up Tuesday.