Wyoming 2011 Position Preview: Offensive Line

by Football

Players Returning:
68. Travis Bogard  C  Fr. 6-4, 307lb, Kenmore, WA
60. Nick Carlson  C  Jr. 6-4, 290lb, Arlington Heights, IL
73. Daniel Fleischman  OT  Fr. 6-6, 297lb, Issaquah, WA
64. Travis Hillen  OT  Sr. 6-5, 295lb, Thornton, CO
70. Skyler Hinton  C  Fr. 6-4, 301lb, Columbia, MO
69. John Hutchins  OT  Sr. 6-5, 295lb, Inver Grove Heights, MN
72. Clayton Kirven  OT  Sr. 6-6, 305lb, Buffalo, WY
76. Josh Leonard  OT  Jr. 6-4, 296lb, Helena, MT
67. Ryan Lovelace  OG  Fr. 6-4, 285lb, Aurora, IL
65. Kyle Magnuson  OT  Jr. 6-6, 300lb, Elkhart, IN
77. Brandon Self  OG  Sr. 6-3, 295lb, Shawnee, OK
90. Tyler Strong   OG  So. 6-3, 288lb Longmont, CO
58. B.J. Sumter  OG  Jr. 6-1, 305lb, Columbia, SC
New Faces:
40. Zach Ewan  LS  Fr. 5-9, 216lb Phoenix, AZ
62. Jake Jones  OT  Fr. 6-3, 295lb, Lakewood, CO
61. Shayne Kelley  OG  So. 6-4, 310lb, Camarillo, CA
63. Rafe Kiely  C  Fr. 6-3, 298lb, Wheaton, IL
75. Zach Rushing  OG  Jr. 6-3, 295lb, Woolmarket, MS
71. Austin Traphagan  OT  Fr. 6-5, 285lb, Yuma, CO

Players Lost:
71. Justin DiRe Fr. 6-6, 270lb, Carlsbad, CA
75. Sam Sterner Sr. 6-4, 302lb, Waconia, MN
57. Jack Tenant Sr. 6-4, 305lb, Mahomet, IL
66. Chance McClaren Rfr. 6-0, 250lb, Aurora, CO

The two most important places to have experience on the football field are quarterback and offensive line.  Obviously the Cowboys will not have that luxury at the quarterback position, but the offensive line enters this season with significantly more experience than last year.  Coming out the spring the projected starters on the offensive line had a combined 78 starts (John Hutchins LT, Tyler Strong LG, Nick Carlson C, Brandon Self  RG, Kyle Magnuson RT).  However, the depth chart seems to be fluid and some spots are still up for grabs, despite a starter returning at the position.  That immediately says two things, the offensive line is improving and last season the offensive line was really BAD – as returning starters may not retain their positions.  The bright spot on the line for the Cowboys is Nick Carlson who was named to the Rimington Trophy  watch list, an award that is given to the nation’s top center.

In practices so far this season it appears that the tackle positions have still not been sorted out.  At left tackle John Hutchins and Clayton Kirven are battling for the starting role and at right tackle Kyle Magnuson is battling to replace last years starter Josh Leonard.  The two guard positions seem a little easier to project starters and it appears that Tyler Strong will start at left guard and Brandon Self at right guard while Nick Carlson holds down the center position.

The Cowboys have four red shirt freshman joining the ranks this season (Travis Bogard, Daniel Fleischman, Skyler Hinton and Ryan Lovelace),as well as one junior college transfer (Shayne Kelley).  These additions will provide depth and competition that is much needed on the line.

Grade: C
Offensive lines are built very differently for different offensive philosophies, i.e. pass or run dominated offenses.  Dave Christensen, thus had to recalibrate the Cowboy offensive line that was handed to him.  This season, year 3, the line should be more representative of the type of lines Christensen’s squads will have in the future.  The added competition and depth should provide an improved group from a year ago, but the level of improvement remains to be seen.  The offensive line could be the offense’s greatest ally or its biggest enemy as the Cowboys break in a freshman quarterback.  It will be much easier for a quarterback to develop if he does not have to brace for impact on every play.  The Cowboys allowed 31 sacks a year ago, if they can pare that number down to around 20 then expect good things from the offense.

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Topics: Austin Traphagan, B.J. Sumter, Brandon Self, Chance McClaren, Clayton Kirven, Cowboys, Daniel Fleischman, Football, Jack Tenant, Jake Jones, John Hutchins, Josh Leonard, Justin DiRe, Kyle Magnuson, Nick Carlson, Rafe Kiely, Ryan Lovelace, Sam Sterner, Shayne Kelley, Skyler Hinton, Travis Bogard, Travis Hillen, Tyler Strong, Wyoming, Zach Ewan, Zach Rushing

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