The offensive line. The Big Uglies. The Hog Mollies. They may mostly be known solely for their large physiques, but these guys are arguably the most important part of any football team-just look at the Chicago Bears for a direct correlation of this point. An offensive lineman’s job is the most thankless there is because it’s hard to directly measure its success beyond overall offensive numbers and sack totals and they are typically only recognized when they do something wrong (Adams, Flozell). However, as any Frog fan can see, this is maybe the most solid line Patterson has had in his tenure and has paved the way for a brusing ground game and a pretty solid passing game. On the other side, Boise’s guys have had as much or more success than our own so this should be the closest pick of all the previews.
Left Tackle – Matt Slater – JR, 6-4, 290.
Left Guard – Will Lawrence – JR, 6-2, 293.
Center – Nate Potter – SO, 6-6, 293.. 1st Team all-WAC.
Right Guard – Kevin Sapien – JR, 6-4, 286.
Right Tackle – Michael Ames – FR, 6-4, 281.
While not as large as the line’s of a lot of the more recognized schools – including TCU – the Broncos front five has been as dominant as any in the country. They have paved the way for the highest scoring offense in division 1 football, and the 8th ranked in total yards. Obviously they can pass block as Kellen Moore has thrown like 80 TDs this year, but their ground attack has been equally as solid as they each rank 14th in the country in total yards. Also to consider – the Boise line has only surrendered five sacks so far this season. FIVE! Yes, they run a shotgun spread offense and the ball is often out of Moore’s hands before even the quickest of defenders coming unabated could get to him, but I’m not about to try and take anything away from them on this. The BSU offense averaged 6.7 yards per play this season as well – a feat that cannot be accomplished without an O line who can keep defenders away from the QB and also blow open holes for the backs. Like I said, you’ll look at their overall size and, being from the south, see teams like Texas or LSU where they average 320 pounds across the front and say, “Ha! There’s no WAY these guys can keep the best defense in the land in check” but, seriously, guess again. These guys are quick and strong and have yet to let their offense down. Don’t think they’re going to all of a sudden take a day off.
Left Tackle – Marshall Newhouse - SR, 6-4, 320.
Left Guard – Kyle Dooley - SO, 6-3, 315.
Center – Jake Kirkpatrick - JR, 6-3, 305.
Right Guard – Josh Vernon - JR, 6-2, 295.
Right Tackle – Marcus Cannon- JR, 6-5, 350.
See what I was saying about that whole size thing? Where in most years TCU would fall into the lower half of the O line size spectrum, this year our line could go up against anyone. We even had a couple of All-American’s in Newhouse and Kirkpatrick, and expect Cannon to fall into that category next year. They gave up twice as many sacks as Boise – 10 – but our total offense numbers rank higher than theirs – 4th vs 8th – and the margin is even wider specifically in the run game department. However, they have us beat by a pretty wide margin in the passing game at 266 yards vs 212.6, but to be completely honest, I don’t even know if that is a relevant factor. Without going any further, the point I want to make is that our offensive line has been extremely sound this season and has really gelled all year with the lack of any significant injuries. Without them, our record setting offense doesn’t get off the ground.
Overall - The biggest determining indicator in this situation would definitely be the run game and how many sacks were allowed, which we split pretty evenly. Our guys may be bigger, but our offenses are pretty dissimilar as Boise will predominantly fling the ball through the air while we obviously would rather hand it off, control the clock and tear up yards that way. However, by that logic you would think that Moore would be more apt to be a sitting duck whereas Dalton is a lot more prone to handing the ball off or scrambling himself, in which case Boise’s five sacks allowed look even better. Still, you can’t deny TCU’s run dominance, which is at least indirectly related to the strength of the line. For clarification, on the year TCU ranks fifth in overall run numbers with 256.5 per game, while Boise comes in at 20 with 194.5 yards – a margin that is relatively as wide as the one Boise holds over us in the sack department. I can sit here and argue this to death, but to be completely honest, and as evidenced by the brevity and lack of quality of this post, I have no idea how to truly evaluate an offensive line, so I’m going to cop out.
Edge – Push.