Cal spring football offensive line preview: Good luck and Godspeed

Cal offensive linemen get ready for 2014 - Cal Bears Online

There's a lot of work needed up front.

Departing: Bill Tyndall, Mark Brazinski, Freddie Tagaloa (transfer)
Returning: Lots of names
New faces: Erik Bunte, Aaron Cochran, Vincent Johnson, J.D. Hinnant

Ah, at last, a position that is about 1000% impossible to predict going into spring camp.

I feel pretty confident in saying that Chris Adcock, Jordan Rigsbee, Matt Cochran will be three of our regular rotation players and likely starters. IF they are healthy. If none of them are healthy, the next names up are Chris Borrayo, Alejandro Crosthwaite, Steven Moore, and Christian Okafor. They all played the most snaps last season and saw occasional starting time.

It is vital for Cal to develop center depth. This is absolutely critical given the past few seasons of mishaps at the center position. Cal's offense began to derail the moment Adcock tore his ACL. If Adcock is healthy, he will probably be our starting center; if not Cal will have to be better prepared to adapt to his absence than they were last fall.

Rigsbee was an adequate replacement at center, but he's best utilized at guard for his power and toughness and forced a lot of shuffling that made us weaker at other positions on the line. Cochran (who was recruited as a center) wasn't ready in his first year in the rotation, but if Adcock isn't ready he's someone to watch at this position. Perhaps walk-on Carson O'Connell could make a dent in the center rotation.

Moving from center to guard, it seems like Cochran, Borrayo, Crosthwaite and Rigsbee could form a nice nucleus going forward if they don't have to get shifted around the line. The run game didn't have great running backs last season, but the offensive line wasn't exactly opening holes in the center of the field. It'll be important to find the two most physical guards out there who have the best feet and get them out there. A lot will depend on health as well.

And now we move to offensive tackle, where there figures to be plenty of competition and a lot of question marks. With the decline of Tagaloa, Moore and Okafor had to spend a lot of time out here last season to try and learn on the job. It was rough, with plenty of blown coverages in pass protection and lots of quick pressure killing Cal in passing down situations. Building depth here is imperative.

Thankfully, Cal seems to have a pretty solid group of redshirt freshmen that have a year of experience practicing this offense and should have at least two tackle prospects. Johnson has been coached within the Tony Franklin System in high school and could acclimate to the rigors of the offense quicker than most redshirts would. Bunte is a massive human being and could provide the Bears with potential depth at tackle. Aaron Cochran is even more imposing, and if he's been conditioned well could provide immediate help at guard. It remains to be seen how far J.D. Hinnant is back from the injuries he sustained in a car accident in high school, but if healthy he could also see practice time.

Plug Bunte and Cochran into the potential tackle rotation, shift one of the four guards that doesn't see playing time into an outside position, incorporate the new faces, and the Bears should have an offensive line they can try and develop into a cohesive hole.

What are your projections for the offensive line? Who do you expect to see starting in the spring and which players are you looking to break out?

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