Where we are:
There was gonna be a drop off in the OL after losing two decorated 4 year starters on the interior. The drop off was not expected to be this big, however. Why is that? First lets look at our options on the OL.
The 2008 class should be our SR and RSJR lineman. We signed 7 - Datko, Faircloth, Sanders, Sanderson, Snider, Spurlock, and Tonga. Datko has been a solid starter for us, but has been playing with an injury this year and is now gone for the season. Faircloth was Datko's backup, but was out with a concussion when we needed him the most. Sanders has been another solid anchor at tackle, but has been a little more inconsistent and prone to mental errors. Sanderson was a experienced backup before being medically disqualified this year. Snider played well after Spurlock went down last year before having a career ending injury himself only a short while later and is now medically disqualified. Spurlock was a heck of an interior player before suffering through multiple concussions and simply hasn't been the same player this year. Tonga didn't ever make it to campus that I can remember. So, out of 7 signees, only one remains that is unaffected by injury.
The next year we only signed 3 (should be JR and RSO), which at the time was understandable since we had just signed 7 - Henry Orleus, Aubrey Phillips, John Prior, Byran Stork (was signed as a TE). Henry Orleus, would have started out the year as a backup on the interior but has been out with injury and just recently started practicing again. Phillips was runoff quickly (for good reason). Prior left for home with family issues. Stork played decently as a OG last year, but has struggled at C this year. So, one from that class have been available this year.
Our 2010 class (should be SO or RSFR) consisted of only Dan Foose. This is where we dropped the ball! We needed to sign more OL in that class. I honestly couldn't tell you a THING about Foose, but he's nowhere on the depth chart and I haven't heard any injury news, so we must have missed on Foose - though he is still very young.
We just signed 8. It's really impossible to say much about the true freshman now, but they were ranked as the top class in the nation so there is a bright future. Barron, Carter, Fahrenkrug, Hart, Lovelady, Matias, Pettis,
Prestwood, Jackson (signed as DT). Hart and Jackson were lining up with the first team early this week at RT and RG.
What's going on now?
The OL has been hurt by injuries and a lack of recruiting in the 2011 and 2010 class. We were really banking on Krug this year because of that and so far he has disappointed after the coaches were high on him in the offseason. We have also lost a big part of our running game with EJ's injury. The zone read and option were gonna be a big part of our offense this year and it's been unavailable. Not only would EJ have been good running the ball, the threat of his run opens up lanes for our backs.
What do we do short term?
Well, we might find out this week. Hart looks to be getting his 2nd straight start as a 17 year old true freshman. Tre Jackson was getting first team reps as Spurlock is out, but with Faircloth coming back to practice, it looks like he'll get the start. I've read from others that seem to know the ins and outs of the OL (and I never played OL) that Krug hasn't been as bad as it seems and hopefully the light will come on for him. Honestly at this point, we don't have a whole lot of options other than going really young, so I hope so. Also, If EJ ever gets healthy and can become a part of running game again, I think it will help immensely.
What do we do long term?
Honestly, I think we set ourselves up pretty good last year for the future, but given the attrition that comes with OL, it's important to sign at least 3 for this class since we're losing 3 Srs and might see more attrition. At this point we only have 1 commitment, but are in the running for several other including one of the highest rated OL in the country. I've seen Trickett work miracles out of nothing before and I've seen us have a stong running game, so I personally don't think it's coaching or scheme. I honestly thing we're just running out of experienced bodies and have not gelled at all along the line this year.