Update: Aug. 4:
Petrino said last week Jordan Johnson probably won’t be back during the fall, and that Jesse Davis will remain on the offensive line at right tackle. The right guard spot is going to be wide open, and I anticipate Spencer Beale, Nick Van Rotz and Aaron Lazaro to be among the players competing for that job.
Previous primer —–
The last two years the Idaho football team has been bad. The offense in particular has been really bad. This we know. But there is bound to be something that this offense can hang its hat on heading into 2013, right? That hat might be able to be hung in the trenches, where Idaho is returning three starters on a line that actually performed well in 2012 — all things considered.
For an analytical look at this offensive line unit we go to our friend Bill Connelly at SBNation who broke down Idaho’s fat five using advanced statistics.
Three things stick out from the statistical breakdown:
– Idaho’s 67-percent success rate in power run situations. That means Idaho was middle-of-the-road in FBS when it came to converting on third/fourth & short running situations.
– Idaho only allowed the passer to be sacked 3.8-percent of the time on a standard down situation. That ranked top 50 in FBS last season.
– Idaho only had a stuff rate of 19-percent, meaning 81-percent of the time Idaho gained positive yardage on runs. That ranked middle-of-the-road in FBS as well.
To put those numbers in context they’re not stellar, but while not stellar in the grand scheme of things it should be noted that as a whole Idaho was atrocious as an offense. So for one aspect of the offense to be average, well, it counts for something. What’s most optimistic about those numbers is the fact that the line will be returning three starters — sophomore left tackle Cody Elenz, sophomore left guard Dallas Sandberg and junior center Mike Marboe.
Cody Elenz started every game at left tackle last season, Dallas Sandberg 11 at left guard and Mike Marboe every game at center. Based on spring practice that isn’t expected to change anytime soon.
The right side of the offensive line is where the question marks will start for Idaho. Converted defensive-lineman Jesse Davis anchored at right tackle during spring practice and could stay there based on comments from Petrino at Sun Belt media days. The right guard slot is the one position on the line that will be up in the air.
It’ll also be interesting to see where senior Jordan Johnson fits into the equation if Jesse Davis remains at right tackle. Davis initially made the switch simply because Idaho didn’t have enough healthy bodies on the line in the spring (Idaho only had one offensive line playing both ways during the spring game), but it seems Davis is slotted to stay there because he performed so well. Meanwhile, Johnson started 11 games at right tackle last season and sat out most of the spring due to an injury.
The second team offensive line will be entirely up in the air, considering so many guys will be coming back off of injury that coaches didn’t get a good opportunity to build that depth chart in the spring.
During the start of fall ball the offensive line is one of the first units we’ll be following closely.
Offensive Line at a glance
Notable departed players: AJ Jones, Guy Reynolds
Notable returning players: Mike Marboe – Jr., Cody Elenz – So., Dallas Sandberg – So., Kyle Salm – Jr., Nick Van Rotz – Sr., Jordan Johnson – Sr., Aaron Lazaro – Sr., Spencer Beale – Jr.
Incoming players: Nick Edenfield – Fr., Brett Thompson – Fr.
Our projected starters: LT Cody Elenz, LG Dallas Sandberg, C Mike Marboe, RG Jordan Johnson, RT Jesse Davis.
The right side of the offensive line is still a little up in the air. It’s entirely possible that Davis could move back to the defensive line and Jordan Johnson gets slotted back in there, or if Davis excels at right tackle it’s possible that Jordan Johnson could just slot over to right guard so that Idaho can have its five best players starting. Assuming the unit doesn’t suffer the rash of injuries it did in the spring, we’ll learn a lot about these guys within the first week.