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O/U 2011: It all starts up front

gettin the job done

FINALLY it’s preseason preview time here at AppFan. We’re calling it Over/Under 2011. Every few days we’ll throw out our best guess estimate of a future stat, and you tell us why we’re wrong.

Last season, App State’s O-line allowed just 9 sacks in 13 games. That cement wall was due in part to a quarterback more mobile than a cell phone brand, but also thanks to a veteran front five that started 11 of 12 games.

Four of those linemen were all-SoCon, and three were seniors (one a draft pick).

This year that unit is being rebuilt. The foundation is Matt Ruff, long-time right guard, and Orry Frye, a right tackle moving to center. The rest are a mix of backups and new faces.

Over/under – O-line starting lineup combos to be seen this season: 4

Weird stat? Sure. But no weirder than this one. The starting five from last season made a combined 151 career starts. In fact, the same five front guys started every game in 2009 …. and in 2008.

Prior to that, you need to go back 19 seasons for a non-mix-and-match O-line at App State.

This season, early indications are it’s back, to the future.

A central question for Appalachian State heading into the 2011 football season is how strong its offensive line will be.

Bob McClain, the Mountaineers’ offensive line coach, isn’t certain of an answer yet.

“It’s still a work in progress,” McClain said.

Senior Xan Thomas is No. 1 at right tackle, and redshirt freshmen Kalan Jones and Kendell Lamm are listed as No. 1s on the left side at guard and tackle.

“But all that could change with each practice,” McClain said.

“When you are working with young guys and guys that haven’t played much, it’s going to be a work in progress all year long. The lineup could change from day to day and week to week.”

Two redshirt freshmen?

/deep breath

The group gets tested early. Va Tech has traditionally been a strong defensive team. Its D-line recorded 34 sacks last season, fourth best in the ACC, though only one starter from that unit returns.

The next two weeks will be a comparative breather till ‘Nooga comes to town.

And preventing sacks is just one part of the job. There’s also opening holes, adjusting to DP’s tendencies and recognizing defensive changes at the line.

Lot to learn. But how fast?

18 Comments

  1. Gwaltineer

    August 28, 2011 at 4:18 am

    I didn't realize we had those injuries.

  2. MIDWEST

    August 28, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Regardless of lack of sacks, the O-line didn't not open holes for the run. Of course, I blame the play calling more than the O-line. When it's 3rd and 2 and you run Cadet up the middle for 1/2 yard, something is not right.

    The bottom line is that our play calling was predictable and uncreative. I kid you not, there were times last year when I called 3-4 plays in a row (and I'm certainly not an expert). That's bad.

  3. AppOrange

    August 28, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Over, this first game at Va Tech could get real ugly and fast. Not really where you want to put in true freshman for their first game action. Then of the other side of the ball, you have a stud running back who is preseason Offensive player of the year in the conference and a "new" defensive scheme.

    My prediction: 48 – 10 . . . then the talk shifts to how we are not FBS ready.

  4. appftw

    August 28, 2011 at 8:28 am

    AppOrange what a pessimistic thing to say. There is no indication whatsoever that the score will be worse than it was against florida. This is not an SEC defensive line. This is an inexperienced ACC defense. Our new starting O-Linemen are not "true freshmen" they're actually redshirt freshmen meaning they've been here for a year and Kendall Lamm helped lead butler to a state title before coming to us. Have some faith or go root for syracuse, whose ass we would kick in football.

    How a team performs on the field is really the least important indicator of FBS readiness. It's more logistics based, like fanbase, donations, and many other things that the 11 month study has already concluded that we are more than capable of providing.

    You and people like you are holding Appalachian back and I'm sick of it.

  5. MIDWEST

    August 28, 2011 at 8:46 am

    We need for this game to be 38-21 or closer.

  6. AppOrange

    August 28, 2011 at 8:55 am

    FTW,

    Yes it is pessimistic, but that is how I see it. Your rage is misguided as I am an addiment supporter to move up, as well as a Yosef club member, so take your "holding Appalachian back" comment and shove it.

    On a side note, we would not kick Syracuse's ass in football, or anyone else from a BCS conference. A close game or upset win every 10th game maybe, but be real, there is a reason we are FCS right now, like it or not. Syracuse was 8-4 last year and beat K-State in a bowl game, get real.

    For the record, I do root for Syracuse, as I was born there and grew up a fan. I went to APP and would root for them over anyone, including the Orange. You need a dose of reality bud. Again, we are an elite FCS team, let's not make us out to be BCS bowl ready just yet!

  7. Gwaltineer

    August 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I'd take 38-24 right now. VaTech hasn't opened a season well in years, but we've got a lot of new folks. Staying within 14 of VaTech while putting some points on th board would seem like good showing to me.

    In addition to the normal size, spead, and depth concerns that will always be there in these games, we are less experienced than we normally are.

  8. hapapp

    August 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Traditionally, Tech has been outstanding on defense under Bud Foster. Last year was an aberration. I don't expect them to be as middle of the road defensively this year. Our Oline is inexperienced and will face a pretty big test on Saturday. I would not describe David Wilson as a new RB. Granted, he wasn't the starter last year but he got plenty of reps and is faster than anyone we will see this year. Logan Thomas is a giant QB in the Cam Newton mold but has little playing inexperience. We have a chance to make it a game if we can neutralize one of those players and make Tech more one dimensional. In my opinion, the key will come down our ability to prevent Wilson from running wild and our ability to establish the run. If Wilson has a field day and we have to rely on the pass, Tech wins by at least 3 TDs. If we can minimize the damage from Wilson and move it on the ground ourselves, we have a chance to keep it close.

  9. hapapp

    August 28, 2011 at 10:50 am

    *little playing experience.

  10. Keith

    August 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I hope the game still has some uncertainty at halftime. The last three years (UF, ECU, LSU) we have given up a lot of points early. This entire flow of the game will come down to the first quarter. I hope we can force a punt and get a few first downs. Confidence in the first half is something we have not had in an FBS game since Michigan.

  11. ASU3432

    August 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    How is Sam Martin? We can't go into Hokieland with a suspect kicking game. "Beamerball" blocking kicks will kill us even if the D and O perform well.

  12. MIDWEST

    August 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    We better have a better game plan than we had vs. UF. The coaching was horrible in that game and we could have scored at least 14 more points.

  13. Pete

    August 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    VA Tech's Special Teams vs Apps is were the problem really is….

    We can hang with VT on Off and Defence…

    31-21 VT

  14. Zen

    August 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    24-20 VT in OT

  15. hapapp

    August 28, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I remain concerned about the offensive line. Not only is it young and inexperienced, it has very little depth.

  16. hapapp

    August 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Here's one view of the game:

    http://cfn.scout.com/2/1096690.html

  17. appftw

    August 29, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Yes I know we're FCS genius, but predicting a 40 point blowout is ridiculous and probably means your lifespan will be shortened due to your extreme pessimism. It will (read:should) be a respectable game.

  18. appftw

    August 29, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Alright Orangina, here's where I'm coming from. I had an 11am this morning with Tony Washington and Jamill Lott. These two guys haven't really seen the field much yet but they will both need to step up big time this season for us to have some success and I think they will, but that's beside the point. Just before class started, talk turned to the michigan rematch and next thing you know the guys in front of me start talking about how we don't have a chance and how they're basically going to dismantle us in the name of sweet vengeance. I doubt they knew that Tony and Jamill were football players, but it still irked me that they were pretty much shouting this as if they were proud. Thank god no one mentioned the VT game and how we don't have a chance with that either. As a fan I feel like you have to have some faith, even when your team plays one game a year against seemingly impossible odds.

    Our team has more on-field experience than tech. I have a feeling it will be a good game.

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