Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Commodores "Better than Last Year" on the O-Line?

I found this quote from Bobby Johnson in today's Tennessean particularly interesting: "I think we're going to be better on the offensive line — better than we were last year," said the coach. That's quite a statement two days before the first two-a-day (preseason camp starts tomorrow) given that CBJ just lost every starter off one of the biggest and most experienced offensive lines in the country -- much less recent Vanderbilt history -- to graduation, including a first-round draft choice in Chris Williams. Commie Nation could be forgiven for wondering what Bobby's been smoking to broaden his coaching mind for the rigors of August practice.

But coach has a point. According to him, with the exception of Williams, the line will be significantly more athletic. For example, taking Williams' place at left tackle will likely be Thomas Welch, a 6-6, 300-pounder who converted from tight end (and thus knows how to move). CBJ also seems impressed with center Bradley Vierling's athleticism. If you look at the depth chart, it's hard to question him too much. We're looking at starting five guys who are all right in the 300-lb. range: LT Thomas Welch (6-6, 300), LG Ryan Custer (6-4, 295), C Bradley Vierling (6-3, 292), RG Drew Gardner (6-5, 305), and RT Eric Hensley (6-6, 310). But more important than their size is the fact that every one of these players is a redshirt junior who has been around long enough to know what to expect on the field, and no doubt they're hungry to shed the reputation of being the weak link in the Vanderbilt offense.

So where does VSL Nation come down? Better? Worse? Not willing to let yourself get your hopes up...again? Let us hear your expectations for the O-Line in 2008. I can't help but think they'll be taking a big step forward as a unit.

(Side note: Looks like both of the sophomore studs from Memphis, John Stokes and Chris Marve, have been pinned by CBJ pre-camp as the likely starters to replace Buggs and Goff at the Sam and Mike linebacker spots, respectively.)

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