Our last positional preview on offense is the offensive line, which may be the biggest key to the 2017 season.
Everyone knows that with any good football team, it starts up front. The UAB football coaching staff certainly knew this as they went out and found experienced junior college talent to quickly build a formidable offensive line.
The two leaders on the offensive line both come from the junior college level in Chris Schleuger and James Davis. They are expected to start on the left side of the line with Davis at tackle and Schleuger at guard.
Schleuger is 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, while Davis is 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds.
It looks like 6-foot-3, 300 pound sophomore Lee Dufour will start at center. Dufour became the center late in the year for UAB back in 2014, and stuck around for #theReturn.
On the right side of the line will be Justice Powers and Malique Johnson.
Powers, at 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, will likely play right tackle, while Johnson, at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, will be at right guard.
In case you’re keeping up, that means every starting offensive lineman for the Blazers is at least 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds or heavier.
That’s a pretty beefy group up front.
Schleuger is the only senior, while Powers, Johnson and Davis are all juniors and Powers is a sophomore.
This has pretty much been the starting five since spring, so you would hope they’ve had enough time to gel together. How quickly this offensive line comes together will ultimately determine how good the Blazers are in 2017.
I’m a little worried about the depth beyond the starting five.
The only other offensive lineman that has been pushing for playing time is junior Rishard Cook. He is a beast of a lineman at 6-foot-3, 340 pounds and should see the field plenty.
Coach Clark said recently that he feels good about the first unit, and there are one or two guys on the second unit he feels good about, but he’d like to have a group of 10 he’s comfortable with.
Hopefully that second unit develops in fall camp to give some depth to this unit.
Not to put too much pressure on the offensive line, but if they fail this year, UAB football won’t be winning many games.