2011 Preview: Offensive Line
Who we lose: Jeff Maddux, Colin Miller
Key returners: Jake Olson, Darren Keyton, Rocky Weaver, Adam Schneid, Mike Repovz and Eric Fisher
2010 Red Shirts: Kevin Henry and Andrew Nowak
Could skip red shirt?: No one. Oh no, not at this level.
For the first time in years, the inside of this offensive line is changing. If NFL scouts are any indication, losing Maddux and Miller is really going to hurt—both players were scooped by the Lions and Steelers respectively.
Not only that, our offensive line really underachieved in 2010—they struggled to make holes for running backs and protect Ryan Radcliff. Much of this could have been attributed to learning a new system and the loss of our beast of a left tackle, Jake Olson but football games are won in the trenches and when a team goes 3-9, far too many battles were lost.
But toward the end of the season, continuity was apparent and the offense started to roll a bit. Mike Repotz and Darren Keyton stepped in nicely and allowed Ryan Radcliff to get comfortable against Navy and Toledo. A small amount of confidence was gained by some important returning pieces and real progress was made toward forging a new offensive line of the future.
Thanks to Coach Enos’ forward thinking, the Chippewas projected starters have a lot of game experience. Check out the following graphic showing the game experience of the projected starting lineup.
It’s all riding on…
…the health of Jake Olson. This team has had high hopes for LT, Jake Olson each of the last 2 seasons but health has been a problem for the big man. If Olson can stay healthy, protect Radcliff’s blind side and open up some holes to the outside for the run game, this Chippewa team could be very dangerous.
…the ability for Coach Enos to remain dynamic with his play calling. Last season, Coach Enos was forced to become one dimensional because the run game was ineffective or CMU was playing from behind. The success of this group may hinge on the ability for Coach Enos to mix up the play calling and run a balanced attack as intended. Everyone’s job is a little easier when the plays are working on the ground and in the air.
…Darren Keyton becoming the commander of the line. The Chippewas were led by a couple of great players and leaders in Jeff Maddux and Collin Miller—who also were healthy week in and week out. With their departure, CMU is looking for a new leader and who better than the projected starting Center, Darren Keyton.
Expect this unit to return to their 2009 form this season as a better understanding of the offense reached and Coach Enos continues to learn how to use this very talented group.
Check back for the linebacker preview!