September 8, 2016

Let's Talk O-Line...

OL recruiting under Mike London...

Jay Whitmire
Ross Burbank
Tim Cwalina
Kelby Johnson
(John Pond was a recruited walk-on)

Mike Mooney
Sean Karl
Ryan Doull
(Jackson Matteo was a recruited walk-on)

2013 (featuring the late rally spurred by Tom O'Brien)
Sadiq Olanrewaju
George Adeosun
Jack McDonald
Eric Tetlow
Eric Smith
Jack English (DE moved to OT)

I do believe that if he had been able to stay healthy, big George would
have been a really good one for us.

Steven Moss
Jacob Fieler

Grant Polk
Ryan Bischoff
R.J. Proctor

Ben Knutson
Dillon Reinkensmeyer

To me, the big problem was that after the attrition of Cwalina, Johnson, and Adeosun, little was done in 2014-16 to try to backfill the OL. What we're left with is a unit with 12 scholarship OL in 2016 (one of which was a former walk-on who earned a scholie), and on a trajectory to feature eight non-true-freshman linemen in 2017 following the departures of Matteo, Smith, Mooney, and Karl.

2017 Offensive Line:
Jack English, Sr.
Jack McDonald, Sr.
Jake Fieler, Jr.
Steven Moss, Jr.
R.J. Proctor, RS So.
Ryan Bischoff, RS So.
Ben Knutson, So. / RS Fr.
Dillon Reinkensmeyer, So. / RS Fr.
~~~ walk-ons ~~~
Patrick Kidd, Jr.
Trenton Jenkins, RS So.
Ben Trent, So.
~~~ 2017 recruits / true freshmen ~~~
Tyler Fannin
Chris Glaser
Bryson Speas?
Mekhi Becton?
Ryan Nelson?
Zac Darwiche? (recruited walk-on)

It's pretty scary, but the situation could stabilize relatively quickly, given the following:
-- One or more of the walk-ons developing into a serviceable OL
-- One or more of the true freshmen coming in ready to play from day one
-- Incoming transfers

Who's our "star" on the OL in 2017?  Jack McDonald?
It's hard to see how the 2017 unit has the potential to be anything better than average.

I'm telling you --- Virginia needs to be landing AT LEAST four OL recruits in every recruiting class. I understand that adds up to 20 if you assume redshirts, but here's the thing: Attrition occurs on the offensive line. It just does. I think that to accelerate our rebuild, the o-line has to be the top priority... and it doesn't even matter what star rating the incoming recruits feature. (Look at Richmond's starting o-line, which manhandled us this past Saturday and would do more than hold its own facing an ACC schedule -- two 2☆ guys and three 0☆ guys.)


  1. I think that your point is also supported by the fact that Coach 2J is a good developer of OL talent. Measuring Adj. Line Yards Ranking, between 2013 and 2015, BYU ranked at 7, 18, and 55 respecitvely among FBS teams. This is impressive considering that BYU has consistently brought in recruiting classes ranked in 70s for the 4 years leading up to that.

    There are any number of possible confounding variables (maybe BYU recruited better at OL than other positions, BYU players are older and more physically developed because mormon mission trips, etc.), and the fact that I only found 3 years of ranking data. But I am too lazy to try and isolate those factors, and I am going to assert that 2J is a good developer of OL players.

    TL;DR good OL coaching + lots of OL players = offensive success


  2. On your last point, I think that's what Bronco was talking about when he said they'd be focusing on some positions over others. Maybe there is a really good skill player in the state but we don't go after him really hard because another position or two (OL in this case) is a priority. I think he understands the problem and has a plan, I didn't think this season would start on such a down note. Just gotta get this week behind us. By the way, I'm really looking forward to Bronco getting us scheduled properly. I would pay money to hear him explain to John Oliver that he doesn't need the "help."

  3. Great analysis. Much of the problems today occurred years ago, and if the problem looms large in 2016, it will only get worse in 2017.

    I am a bit disappointed by recruiting so far; it is clear that it is not Mendenhall's strength. Though I don't disagree with your point that OL could play right away and solve the OL problem (playing right away could also solve problems on defense or DL), highly rated recruits with offers/attention from strong programs make that more possible than lower rated recruits. Anecdotes don't change that.

  4. Agree big time. Only 7 OL between 14 and 16? Yikes. To your point, Matteo is probably our best o-lineman and he was a walk on. They should, really, be able to have this greatly improved by 2018, if not next year.