I’ve been slacking and I’ve got just the OL and special teams to discuss left. I firmly believe an effective offense starts with a solid O-line, and this year’s line is replacing three graduating seniors. However the fortunate thing for this Oline is that the staff was smart and rotated in a lot of guys that will be possibly starting this season. My biggest questions with this group are who will take the one presumed wide-open spot at guard, and which guys will step up as the enforcers this year with Oppy and Sabin gone?
So here’s who we’ve got:
Kjelby Oiland (Jr) 6-4 285: Kjelby will be rotating to center after a solid season at guard. What I’ve not seen from him are his shotgun snaps, spring ball will be the big test for him. I’ve heard lots of good things about this kid, smart, strong, and physical. I’m thinking he’ll probably be up a bit more than 285, but he’s the right size for a quicker OL. Moving to center will be demanding, he’ll need to identify the blitzes this year. Considering Gregorak is keeping Breske’s style Kjelby’s going to get tested quickly this spring.
Danny Kistler (Jr) 6-8 315: I believe we’re going to see Danny move to tackle. In 2010 he was at both guard and tackle at times, his footwork is improving and that’ll be the big test for him to make the transition from guard to tackle. Danny is now the most experienced player on the Oline and I’d like to see him improve his vocal-leadership that we usually see out of the more experienced guys. What I’m looking for in Danny is his ability to contain speed-rushers.
Trevor Poole (So) 6-5 275: Trevor will be the other 1st string tackle entering spring ball. He was able to get a lot of reps this last season filling in for Burton on series and helping out in rotations when Oppy missed some time as well. Trevor is a quick guy for his size, he’ll fit well with this system. Strength and the ability to knock DEs/LBs back on their butts will be what I’m looking for in him. Gragg’s been grooming him for 2 years now, when Trevor came in for Oppy at times that side of the line wouldn’t be as effective (but those are big shoes to fill on the fly). This year, he’s the man, and we’ll need him to continue to improve his run blocking to go along with some already effective pass blocking.
William Poehls (Jr) 6-8 331: Will started the season as the 1st in guard to line up next to Burton, but as the season went on Oiland took that role over. However Will did not just fall off, he continued to play well. A key memory what Jordan Canada’s game-winning TD run against NAU where Poehls blocked out 3 guys. He’s come along and I believe will be our other starting guard, I don’t know if his footwork is good enough for tackle, although he’s had reps there as well.
Jake Hendrickson (Sr) 6-3.5 302: Jake was red-shirted this season in what I believe was originally hopes to bring him in as the 2012 starter at center. However Pflu’s made it clear he’s hoping to put Oiland at center to start, I wonder if that’s due to concerns of Jake being consistent with his shotgun snaps. Jake could still battle for center, or could win a starting spot at guard. One of just 2 seniors of the group I would assume coach Beers will give him looks in both places to see where he fits. In 2010 when we last saw him Jake was having issues with the speed of the zone block, hopefully with a year working on the system and further conditioning for this offense that wont be as much of a concern.
Logan Hines (So) 6-4 310: Listed as a center for 2011 I wonder if he’ll be moved around, especially considering you’ve got possibly Oiland, Hendrickson, and Brauer at center, seems like too much of a log-jam. Logan was a tackle at his JuCo, will he move out there or is he too slow to play tackle at this level? He could also be an option at guard. He’s clearly a versatile guy, we’ll just have to see what his best fit is.
Jordan Hines (So) 6-4 310: Listed as a guard, played tackle as well. Jordan follows similar suit to his twin brother, a guy who could be put in 4 of the 5 positions on the OL depending on his quickness, smarts, and footwork. If his reps in 2011 were entirely as a guard he could be one of the guys that will make a run to grab the other starting guard spot as he’d enter the season more familiar with the spot than his brother.
Brett Brauer (Sr) 6-2 270: Last years backup center and starting short-snapper Brett has a key role on special teams. In 2011 Brody’s early season issues were because of the team trying other short-snappers and throwing off his routine that he worked on with Brett all off-season. Brett’s a little too short and light for what the coaches want in a starting center, but he’s a mean SOB on the field. He’ll be presumably fighting to not only just be the short-snapper but to also backup Oiland at center and get some more time out there on the field.
John Schmaing (RS Frosh) 6-6 255: I’m pretty sure he’s probably heavier than 255 with his red shirt season now behind him. While in fall camp he was pushed around due to being lighter on his feet I was told that his technique wasn’t bad and he did a decent job overall. It’s a wild guess but if John enters spring ball in the 265 – 275 kind of range, I’d wonder if he’ll get reps at his position he played in high school at tackle. The loss of Joe Dahl leaves an immediate depth issue at tackle, and John could be just the guy to step up and take that role on. Obviously adding weight/muscle and overall improvement will be the big thing I’ll be looking for in John
Samson Kaleikini (RS Frosh) 6-5 270: Another young gun I’m looking for some big improvements out of. Samson I’m assuming will continue at guard, he didn’t start fall camp off to well (at least as I saw it) but he’s a quick guard that is exactly what the staff wants. I’m putting my expectations/hopes for him very similar to Schmaing, added size and improved knowledge of the offense.
Shawn Bradshaw (RS Frosh) 6-3 240: The guy who was involved in a few altercations during spring ball Shawn unfortunately broke or badly hurt something with his foot or ankle about halfway through fall camp. He’s fighting an uphill battle as I presume he’s a walk-on (being a local kid and undersized last year). If he can continue to concentrate that “mean” attitude and improve his game but not blow his top against teammates he could develop into a decent backup this year. Hopefully there’s a bit more weight on his frame this spring.
Zachary Taves (RS Frosh) 6-4 260: Another walk-on, I don’t recall a lot from him in the fall, at 260 he’ll need some more weight for spring camp and much like Bradshaw he’ll be fighting for a roster spot against other walk-ons/preferred frosh that were on the 2011 scout team.
New to the team in the fall:
Devon Dietrich 6-5 260
Max Kelly 6-7 265
Clint LaRowe 6-5 250
McCauley Todd 6-7 280
Ben Weyer 6-4 275
Of all these guys I think that McCauley has a decent shot to bypass his redshirt and make the depth chart, however we’ll just have to see come fall camp.
There’s lots of moving pieces to this Oline, but I’m going to take a stab at depth here. Of course the issue is that I think some guys who are listed a center might actually wind up a guard, and so on. However, here’s my best guess for now, going T/G/C/G/T
1st string: Poole/Hendrickson OR Hines/Oiland/Pohels/Kistler 2nd string: Hines/Hines OR Bradshaw/Brauer OR Hines/Kalekini/Schmaing 3rd string: ?/Bradshaw/Hines OR Brauer/Taves/?
Naturally with the depth you can see what the issue could be… tackle, and you see why Pflu is bringing in quite a few new guys in this class. Todd and possibly Weyer might get a good look to play/backup, I know there’s a few walk-ons this spring that are also hoping to land on the roster. The 1st string looks good, overall, after that it gets dicey with experience and depth.