2012 football by position: offensive line
As we’re just weeks away from the start of the football season, it’s time to take a detailed position-by-position look at the 2012 EMU football team. This is our time to refresh our memory about returning players, and learn a little about the new faces. This morning we wrap up our coverage of the offense with what might be the Eagles’ strongest position: offensive line.
Lost: Bridger Buche.
Bridger Buche leaves the biggest hole of any departing offensive player, both literally and figuratively. Buche signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent on July 23, but they must not have been too impressed, because they released him just eight day later. Fortunately for him, the Minnesota Vikings lost several offensive linemen to injuries the next week, and they picked him up August 4. He’s currently listed way, way back on their depth chart, so unless he can really impress the coaching staff or there are a bunch more injuries, he’ll almost certainly be gone by the end of the month.
Presumptive starters: Korey Neal, senior (left tackle); Corey Watman, senior (left guard); Andrew Sorgatz, senior (center); Campbell Allison, redshirt sophomore; Lincoln Hansen, redshirt sophomore.
Sorgatz at center and the CKoreys on the left side are essentially locks; only injuries will keep them out of the starting lineup, having started a combined 73 games at EMU. Sorgatz started at center for every game in 2011, after starting all 12 games of 2010 and 11 games of 2009 at left guard. Korey Neal missed the first two games of 2011 with a high ankle sprain, but proceeded to start at left tackle in the remaining 10 games. He also started 10 times in 2010, all on the right side of the line. Corey Watman started 10 games at left guard in 2011, missing games against Akron and Toledo after suffering a sprained right knee late in the game against Penn State. In 2010 he started eight games at right guard.
After those three, I’d expect either Allison or Hansen to start at right tackle — they shared time at that position for most of 2011 — with either the other of Allison/Hansen or possibly Scott MacLeod to start at right guard. Whichever of those three doesn’t get the start is unquestionably the top sub on the entire offensive line.
Depth: Jake Hurcombe, freshman; Matt Thornton, freshman; Josh Woods, redshirt sophomore; Jordan Erbes, redshirt sophomore; Shawn Sinawe, redshirt junior; Darien Terrell, freshman; Garrett Parker, redshirt freshman; Scott MacLeod, redshirt junior; Bobby McFadden, redshirt sophomore; Orlando McCord, redshirt junior.
Here’s the thing about EMU’s depth at offensive line. Sorgatz and Watman are the only — THE ONLY — returning players who haven’t taken a redshirt year. (Garrett Parker enrolled at EMU in January 2011, so he’s considered a redshirt freshman.) The ability to redshirt every offensive lineman, to give their bodies an extra year to develop, to give them an extra year to learn the blocking system, that ability is a luxury that EMU hasn’t often had in the past, and it’s one that should pay huge dividends for the Eagles going forward, starting as soon as this fall. Given the continued depth at offensive line, it’s a pretty safe bet that Hurcombe, Thornton, and Terrell will all redshirt.
Top backups include whoever of Scott MacLeod (4 starts in 2011), Lincoln Hansen, or Allison Campbell doesn’t start, and then probably Bobby McFadden.
Read what Hustle Belt has to say about all the MAC offensive lines, where they rate EMU 3/13, behind Ohio and Ball State. I fully expect the Eagles to have the best run-blocking squad in the MAC; for me the only question is whether they can bring their pass blocking up to the same high level.