Monday, September 26, 2011

One reason why Vandy's O-line is struggling

Wondering why Vandy’s offensive line has been struggling? One reason: the Commodores have lost a whopping seven players in the past year or so. Here’s the list, with their class if they’d stayed in school:

• James Williams, RSr (academic casualty in summer of 2010)
• Rob Ashabranner, RSr (left school in summer of 2010)
• Jabo Burrow, RJr (still on roster; career-ending injury in second game of 2011)
• Michael Bryant, RJr (transferred to Tennessee-Martin in 2009)
• Richard Cagle, RJr (transferred to Abilene Christian in summer of 2010)
• Justin Cabbagestalk, RSo (left team in 2010 due to career-ending injury)
• James Kittredge, So (suspended, transferred to Michigan State in spring of 2011)

Most Commodore fans will agree that Williams was a huge loss. We watched him blast huge holes for Zac Stacy against LSU before breaking his leg; he returned for spring practice and then left school, reportedly an academic casualty.

And nearly everybody will agree that we'd be better off right now with Jabo Burrow, whose career ended in the UConn game after a concussion, instead of Chase White, who was a weak link against South Carolina and game way to Logan Stewart.

While few fans are mourning the loss — or would even recognize — Ashabranner, Bryant or Cagle, we could definitely use more upperclassmen. Right now, we should have at least nine upperclassmen on our depth chart. But thanks to the loss of Williams, Ashabranner, Bryant, Cagle and now Burrow, we have four upperclassmen, and one of them, Josh Jelesky, converted a couple of weeks ago from defensive end.

So the bad news is we've got no experience.

The good news? We've got lots of young guys, who'll one day be veterans, if they can just stay in school and injury-free.


VandyPhile said...

Wait, is it permitted to say that something is not Larry Smith's fault? Really hope those guys we have left can stay healthy and eat their Wheaties. We really need them to play like they did against Ole Miss, so the whole team can shine. We really need much more beef on the line. Go Dores!

even more anonymous said...

Yet again you're the only site to offer this kind of depth and perspective.

Anonymous said...

Great post as usual. When you look at the other skill positions on offense, it appears that we have upgraded significantly from last season. It proves once again that when you look at the good SEC teams, that they all build effective offensive lines. Our RB's and WR's appeard to have been upgraded via recruiting and much better position coaching. While I have criticized LS in the past, it's not really fair to take shots at him with this poor offensive line. Rogers would do no better behind this line. I still think this is a 6-7 win team / season. Go Dores !

Dimon said...

Unfortunately, it just takes longer to develop an offensive lineman than it does a running back or defensive back. Good coaching helps, but it's going to take some time for these guys to gel. Ole Miss was penetrating into our backfield, but our coaches started calling plays like the statue of liberty that took advantage of their overpursuit. The problem against SC was that those guys are unbelievable athletic and were grabbing our running backs from behind.

Jayden said...

the SC d-line was as-advertised, and they played a great game even for them. our O-line is not in the same class, and it was the limiting factor all night. tom brady would not have fared any better with that kind of pressure. the hard truth is that our best O-linemen (Seymour) wouldnt start for 2/3 of the SEC, and Wes Johnson wouldnt see the field due to his size alone. Talent and coaching are only parts of the equation when you play in the best conference in the country.

Dimon said...

Good point. It's always interesting to consider which Vandy players would even get playing time on another SEC team.