July 14, 2008

Countdown to Camp: Filling the void at OL

Fall camp opens up in 21 days. Over the next couple of weeks, PowerMizzou.com will continue to get Tiger fans completely prepped for the biggest season in school history. Today, we continue our in-depth breakdowns of the fall situation at every position on the field. We move on to the offensive line today.

The Starters: Four starters are pretty much set. Kurtis Gregory will be at left tackle, Ryan Madison at a guard spot, Tim Barnes at center and Colin Brown at right tackle. Brown and Gregory will anchor the line and Barnes will be the key, stepping in for Adam Spieker. Dain Wise is in line to be the other starter at guard.

Major Camp Storyline: It seems to be a good bet that Dan Hoch will be the first true freshman ever to see time on the offensive line for a Gary Pinkel coached team. The question is where. He's probably going to start out at left tackle and fight for a reserve role, but that's a tough spot to play a true freshman for a top ten team. So can Hoch slide in and fight for major playing time at one of the guard spots? Does he back up Brown at right tackle? Once Hoch's position is figured out, some of the other depth falls into place on the line.

Position Rating: 6.5. Gregory and Brown should be very good at the tackles. Madison is experienced inside. But those are the only three players who have worthwhile experience and they're protecting a Heisman Trophy candidate. The line needs to take a similar learning curve as what the defense did last year: Be better in October than August and better in December than in October. If that happens, this rating goes up and the Tigers should have a strong start toward fulfilling high expectations.

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