Our post-spring series continues on offense today with the offensive line.
• Projected starters: LT Blaine Clausell, So.; LG Gabe Jackson, Jr.; C Dillon Day, So.; RG Tobias Smith, Sr.; RT Charles Siddoway, Jr.
• Backups: LT/RT Damien Robinson, So.; RT Archie Muniz, So.; LG Templeton Hardy, Sr.; C Dylan Holley, Jr.; RG Ben Beckwith, So.; RG Justin Malone, R-Fr.
• The skinny: What we saw this past spring, especially the last couple of weeks, was a lot of shifting around on the offensive line. That starting five above? An educated guess at best. Coaches are just trying to figure out who fits where, and the only guy locked in as a starter is Jackson. He’s an all-SEC performer and serves as the anchor of this unit.
As Clausell said, “Nobody has a solid spot right now, so everybody’s going to move around until you find the five best to play.”
Clausell, who split time on the left side last fall with the now-departed James Carmon, saw a little time at right tackle in the spring but will likely settle in on the left side. He’s made some progress and should win the job there. If so, that means you’ll probably see Siddoway, a juco transfer, starting at right tackle. Robinson could throw a monkey wrench into all of this if he’s able to step up his game, but right now he looks to be a backup swingman.
On the inside, the center position is up for grabs, but I thought Day stayed ahead of Holley, a juco transfer. Day has starting experience in this offense and is familiar with quarterback Tyler Russell. Day could move to right guard if Smith, who is coming back from yet another injury, can’t get healthy (he spent most of the spring on the sideline). Or it could push Malone or Beckwith into the starting lineup, and both got some good work with the ones this spring.
The key to this offense is the line play, because the skill positions are well stocked. Russell isn’t as elusive as Chris Relf, so pass protection takes on greater importance. Whereas the spring was all about reps and teaching, the fall will be about fitting the pieces together and developing chemistry.