The Skinny: The effectiveness Offensive Line is vital for the Bulls to have success moving the ball this season. The production of guard Jeremiah Warren and center Chaz Hine will be difficult to replicate, but new starters Damien Edwards and Austin Reiter must fill those shoes as best they can. Furthermore, this group needs to develop a championship level of cohesion if USF wants to finish atop the Big East.
Will this Oline foster open lines of communication that can manifest itself into a stout rushing attack? Will this group keep defenders away from BJ and keep him healthy?
Position Battles: Transfer Lawrence Martin stepped up when Danous Estenor went down with an ankle injury. If Danous or Damien Edwards struggle, Lawrence Martin might get an early look with this offense.
Who Needs to Step up: The Oline did a serviceable job this spring, but they didn’t pass the overall litmus test (the eye test). This was the first time this group of players was able to line up together and the injury to Estenor hampered their overall progression as a unit. However, Lawrence Martin came up big and should be pegged as the Oline’s “6th Man” at this point.
Including Martin, the second team doesn’t have a substantial amount of experience together. Bulls fans need to hope that none of the starters goes down for a long-term injury thrusting one of the backups into a pivotal role. The majority of the reserves are still very young and still need time to develop.
Although Austin Reiter got rave reviews from the staff there are a lot of unknowns surrounding him. You never know how he’ll react in live game situations, especially early in the season against another young star like DT Timmi Jernigan at FSU. Reiter will be tested early an often by opposing teams.
Ryne Giddens put on a clinic this spring against outside blockers. Popek struggled against Giddens 1-on-1 resulting in multiple sacks every scrimmage. It will be a blessing for this Oline to be able to practice with him and JuJu every day and they must put their best foot forward during those reps. This unit cannot get down on themselves if the two pass rushers make plays because they will be doing that all season. Lastly, the starters must develop cohesion and adapt their pass blocking styles depending on which running back will be carrying the ball.