Tiger Position Preview: Offensive Line
Missouri returns all 5 starters along the offensive line from last season.
Unlike last August, when former O-line coach Glen Elarbee was still getting his preferred personnel in place, I don't expect much of a shake-up among the starters along the offensive front this time around. New O-line coach Brad Davis appears to be heading into Fall Camp with his starting line-up intact. Durant took over the starting left tackle job in Missouri's fourth game last season, and he's done nothing but get better. Pendleton has started 24 games at left guard over the past 2 years. Last year, Castillo made all 13 starts at center as a red-shirt freshman, and he was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team by the league's coaches. He's one of Missouri's strongest players. Last season, Simms started all 13 games for the Tigers as a true sophomore. He played in all 12 games as a true freshman, primarily on special teams. This year, he comes into Fall Camp in the best physical condition in which I've ever seen the local product. He's transformed his huge body, and he appears to be physically ready to elevate his on-field performance. This is the last go-round for 5th-year senior Paul Adams, who has started all 25 games over the past 2 seasons. He's a technician who has been very effective the last 2 seasons in Missouri's get-the-ball-out-quick offense. Now, Missouri's offensive line is going to be asked to give Drew Lock more time. Barring injuries, there is, in my opinion, just one second-string offensive lineman who might mount a serious challenge for an early-season starting role. Red-shirt freshman Case Cook will challenge senior Kevin Pendleton. It's possible that we could end up seeing a time-share at that left guard position. Cook is, in my opinion, the Tigers' #6 OL going in, and he is likely Missouri's first insurance policy along the entire OL; at the very least all 3 of the interior positions. The next in line of the second-string OLs is, in my opinion, red-shirt freshman Larry Borom. He's practiced at both tackle and guard. He's another one who's been transforming his body since he got here. The third red-shirt freshman who has ascended to the second string is Hyrin White. Instead of utilizing the first 2 weeks of Fall Camp getting their new starters installed, like they did last year, the Tigers this year have spent the Spring, and head into Fall Camp, with the same starting unit from last season. But, they are working to perfect a somewhat new offensive approach, as installed by new Offensive Coordinator Derek Dooley, and new techniques, as taught by new Offensive Line Coach Brad Davis. So instead of integrating new players, the challenge this year is to take the same players, more experienced, and presumably individually improved and more developed, and to master the somewhat new offense, with it's new approach to holding the football longer, and its new blocking techniques. There are 2 other readily noticeable differences this time around, as compared to a year ago. This Fall, those 3 red-shirt freshmen have replaced 3 seniors and former starters on the second unit from a year ago. I like the red-shirt freshmen OLs. But they're not nearly as experienced as last year's seniors and former starters. That's not really an issue until they're called upon. Lastly, the incoming freshmen OLs comprise a fully-stocked third string, which last year was at times too short-handed to be fully functional. Typically, the first 2 weeks of Fall Camp is a time when the younger players can get a good many reps, and with that increased work, there's an opportunity to make an impression. I'm looking forward to seeing the youngsters perform on the practice field. Hopefully, everyone will remain healthy, and the youngsters can continue to develop.
Here's kind of what I think the Depth Chart might look like along the offensive line as Mizzou heads into Fall Camp:
LT 70 Yasir Durant 6’7” 340 (J) 50 Hyrin White 6’6” 300 (RSF) Javon Foster 6’6” 309 (F)
LG 71 Kevin Pendleton 6'3" 330 (S) 59 Case Cook 6’5” 305 (RSF) Xavier Delgado 6’5” 300 (F) 62 Thomas Grossman 6’3” 285 (S)
C 55 Trystan Castillo 6’4” 320 (So) 67 Jonah Dubinski 6’2” 295 (J) 59 Case Cook 6’5” 305 (RSF)
RG 75 Tre'Vour Simms 6'5" 340 (J) 79 Larry Borom 6’6” 345 (RSF) 69 A.J. Harris 6’3” 305 (J) (coming off of surgery)
RT 77 Paul Adams 6'6" 315 (S) 56 Sam Bailey 6'4" 295 (S) Mike Ruth 6’7” 305 (F) Bobby Lawrence 6’8” 300 (F)