2014 ACC Preview: Off. Line Unit Rankings

Posted Aug 13, 2014

Preview 2014 - Atlantic Coast Offensive Line Unit Rankings

Offensive Lines


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Unit Rankings QB | RB | WR | OL
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- 2014 North Carolina Preview
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1. Florida State
The ‘Noles have some of the best skill position talent in the ACC to go along with the top O-line to block for them. It almost seems unfair. Four decorated starters return, and the lineup is expected to be comprised of five seniors, with Austin Barron supplanting Bryan Stork at center. Tackle Cameron Erving is the league’s best blocker and a probable first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft. He’s surrounded by Josue Matias, Tre’ Jackson and Bobby Hart, fellow maulers in the running game. The only thing keeping Florida State from achieving a perfect grade is pass protection, which should improve from a season ago.
Unit Ranking: 9.5

2. Miami
The Hurricane O-line will be built around three quality returning starters, Ereck Flowers, Jon Feliciano and Shane McDermott. More than just the best blocker on his own team, Flowers is a rising star among ACC blockers. And Feliciano and McDermott are rock-solid components at guard and center, respectively. The fate of the unit will be decided on the right side of the line, where junior OG Danny Isidora and sophomore OT Taylor Gadbois are sizing up starting assignments. After C Alex Gall, Miami has virtually no starters beyond the first unit.
Unit Ranking: 8.5

3. Louisville
While the Cards should be just fine on the starting unit, depth will be tested, and young players will get every opportunity to crack the rotation right away. The good news is that four physical and experienced starters, Ryan Mack, Jamon Brown, John Miller and Jake Smith, return. The latter three linemen were named All-AAC in 2013. The concern as Louisville enters the tougher ACC is that depth will be a year-long problem. It was a worry in the spring, and that was before three former backups announced that they’d be leaving the program.
Unit Ranking: 8

4. Duke
A vastly underrated component of the Blue Devils’ recent success has been the blocking of a line that has allowed less than 20 sacks for three straight years. Three starters are back from the 2013 edition, with mauling pro-caliber OG Laken Tomlinson serving as the leading man for one final season. Duke hopes to seamlessly splice LG Lucas Patrick and RT Tanner Stone into the lineup now that Dave Harding and Perry Simmons, respectively, have graduated. Under David Cutcliffe, the Devils have gotten bigger and better conditioned at the line of scrimmage.
Unit Ranking: 7.5

5. North Carolina
The Tar Heels ought to be just fine … by 2015. This season, however, will be a rebuilding year for a young group that’ll miss all-star LT James Hurst and C Russell Bodine. Now, there’s plenty of talent in Chapel Hill, such as nasty OG Landon Turner and Jon Heck and Caleb Peterson, who started as freshmen in 2013. But the unit won’t hit its stride until late this year or at some point next season. Just how green will Carolina be up front? Hurst’s old job of guarding the backside could be filled by ballyhooed true freshman Bentley Spain.
Unit Ranking: 7.5

6. Clemson
The remaking of the Tiger offense will not be limited to quarterback and the skill positions. The O-line, too, is an offseason work-in-progress. Clemson will be without last year’s two best linemen, Brandon Thomas and Tyler Shatley, pressuring the holdovers to rise up. Isaiah Battle is moving from right tackle to left tackle, where he hopes to blossom into the kind of star that makes NFL scouts swoon. A lot is expected from veterans David Beasley, Ryan Norton, Kalon Davis, Joe Gore, Shaq Anthony and Eric Mac Lain, especially after the Tigers ranked 12th in ACC sacks allowed last year.
Unit Ranking: 7

7. Boston College
The Eagles got back to being a physical, downhill running team in 2013, Steve Addazio’s first as the team’s head coach. Boston College wants to seize that momentum, despite losing tackles Matt Patchan and Ian White to graduation. On the interior, BC will be rugged, led by All-ACC C Andy Gallik and salty guards Bobby Vardaro and Harris Williams. Tackle, though, needs to be addressed between now and the opener. The right side should belong to Ian Silberman, another of Addazio’s Gainesville imports. The all-important left tackle slot still needs to be sorted out in August.
Unit Ranking: 7

8. Syracuse
The graduation of stalwart C Macky MacPherson leaves a giant hole in the middle of the Orange front. Otherwise, though, this unit looks as if it could be formidable in 2014. It’s got a future pro at left tackle, Sean Hickey, and three other returning starters. One of those regulars, Rob Trudo, is sliding inside from guard to replace MacPherson. And with Trudo on the move, it’s created an opening for sophomore Omari Palmer to start on the left side. Syracuse has been an assertive run blocking team lately, a trend that’ll continue this fall.
Unit Ranking: 7

9. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets have their anchor, OG Shaq Mason … and a lot of question marks. Mason is an All-American and a perfect fit for the blocking scheme run by the offense. But he’ll be joined by a new wave of starters, as Tech retrofits its front wall. Battle-tested juniors Trey Braun and Bryan Chamberlain do have starting experience at left guard and right tackle, respectively. Left tackle and center, though, will be glaring unknowns, since neither Chris Griffin nor Freddie Burden has even played a snap at this level.
Unit Ranking: 6.5

10. Pittsburgh
The Panthers will once again be a frustrating confluence of half-empty (pass protection) and half-full (run blocking) Pitt can maul opponents into submission with OG Matt Rotheram and a set of returners that started a lot of games in 2013. But what happens when first-time starting QB Chad Voytik drops back to throw? In all likelihood, he’s going to get harassed outside of his comfort zone. The Panthers allowed the fourth most sacks in the country a year ago, which will force tackles Adam Bisnowaty and T.J. Clemmings to improve at sealing the edge.
Unit Ranking: 6.5

11. Virginia Tech
The Hokies are seasoned in the trenches. Big whoop. The O-line lost little to graduation, but it won’t mean a thing if the individual blockers can’t do a markedly better job of holding their blocks. Tech has had nagging and debilitating problems here for years, which has been reflected in the offense’s overall output. Last season, for instance, the Hokies were 13th in the ACC in yards per carry and 10th in sacks allowed. Everyone will benefit if oft-injured David Wang can man the pivot for an entire season.
Unit Ranking: 6.5

12. Virginia
The graduations of Morgan Moses and Luke Bowanko from the left side has the Cavaliers entering 2014 with question marks. The big news is that last year’s starting right guard, Jay Whitmire, is expected to supplant Moses at tackle. He ought to be flanked by Eric Smith, who started eight games at right tackle as a rookie in 2013. At guard, Virginia will try to lean on the experience of Connor Davis and Ross Burbank. The Hoos are going to be young, and even in a best case scenario, they’re a year away from being an asset to the rest of the offensive personnel.
Unit Ranking: 6

13. Wake Forest
Much like the rest of the roster, the Demon Deacons will be a work-in-progress in the trenches. Sure, there’s an emerging foundation in OG Dylan Intemann and C Cory Helms, who became the first true freshman O-lineman to start at Wake since 1987. But this group will be on its heels versus defenses that get upfield. And creating running room for the backs was a nightmare in 2013. That said, if veterans Antonio Ford and Hunter Goodwin can smooth out some wrinkles, this could be a stable unit, relative to the rest of the offensive personnel.
Unit Ranking: 6

14. NC State
Blocking properly. It’s a key skill that’s escaped the Pack for too many years. The O-line will again be a priority area for NC State, which was 11th in yards per carry and 13th in sacks allowed last season. The 2014 edition of the O-line lacks a true anchor, unless injury-prone fifth-year senior Rob Crisp suddenly approaches his once-lofty high school grade. Four players, Alex Barr, Tyson Chandler, Quinton Schooley and Joe Thuney, started at least 10 games in 2013, but experience alone won’t help this unit against the ACC’s better D-lines.
Unit Ranking: 6