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Top to bottom: Ranking the 2020 Southeastern Conference offensive lines

May 22, 2020
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The Southeastern Conference is known as a Line of Scrimmage league. The reasons why are numerous.

Over the last four college football seasons, at least six SEC teams have ranked among the nation’s Top 30 in rushing offense or sacks allowed — or both. Those stats are indicative of sound offensive line play.

Further, in that span, the SEC has produced 13 All-American offensive linemen. Just last month, three SEC offensive linemen were selected in the first round of the NFL draft. That’s more than any other conference.

The SEC’s strength up front doesn’t figure to decrease much in 2020. Indeed, Alabama could boast the strongest offensive line in the nation. There could be a few more that are surprisingly elite.

Here’s a look at the projected SEC offensive line rankings for the 2020 season:

1. Alabama: Four starters return from a line that allowed the fewest number of sacks among Power 5 teams last season. Alabama was also fourth in the SEC in rushing offense. First-round draft choice Jedrick Wills must be replaced, but that never seems to be an issue for the Tide. Damn it.

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The Vols’ dramatic turnaround in 2019 can be credited in part to their O-line play.

2. Tennessee: The outlook is getting much better in Knoxville. The o-line is a big reason — perhaps the main reason — why. Trey Smith might be the best guard in the SEC. The rest of the line must improve, but it was young last reason and returns intact. Cade Mays, a transfer from Georgia, will provide a boost if he’s declared eligible.


3. Kentucky: Although left guard Logan Stenberg was taken in the NFL draft, four starters remain, including All-SEC center Drake Jackson. The Wildcats led the SEC in rushing in 2019 despite not having a passing threat in the second half of the season.

4. Georgia: Yikes. Georgia must replace tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, who were first-round draft choices. The Bulldogs also lost guard Solomon Kindley, a fourth-round selection. However, center Trey Hill and guard Ben Cleveland are solid and proven. Also, Georgia has a stockpile of former five- and four-star prospects that have been waiting for their chance.

5. LSU: Right tackle Austin Deculus is the national champions’ only returning starter up front. You think they’re worried? Guard Ed Ingram has been a productive starter, and there’s always talent on LSU’s roster ready to step up. The Tigers are also optimistic about Harvard transfer Liam Shanahan at tackle.

6. Florida: The Gators were so-so upfront in 2019. Four starters return with the only defection being guard Chris Bleich, who transferred to Syracuse. But Stewart Reese arrived as a graduate transfer from Mississippi State where he was a two-year starter at tackle and one at guard.

7. Texas A&M: This might seem too high for a line that allowed 34 sacks in 2019, but four starters return, and three of them blocked for the SEC’s leading rusher in 2018. There could be some retooling with sophomore Kenyon Green possibly shifting from guard to tackle. An upgrade is expected at center, too.

8. South Carolina: The Gamecocks had their problems up front last year, but most teams would struggle against the schedule they played. Junior Dylan Wannam (recovered from an ankle injury that forced him out of five games) heads a group of four returning starters.

Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports
Protecting the young Bo Nix will be vital to Auburn’s championship hopes in 2020.

9. Auburn: Part-time starting center Nick Brahm is the only returnee with starting experience. Therefore, the Tigers are in serious rebuild mode without a lot of highly-rated prospects to step in.

10. Ole Miss: Statistics might suggest that the Rebels should be ranked higher. They were second in the SEC in rushing offense and sixth in sacks allowed. Stats can be deceiving, though. The Rebels weren’t that dominant up front, and only two starters return.

11. Mississippi State: Stewart’s decision to transfer to Florida hurt as that leaves the Bulldogs with just two returning line starters. Rising-senior Greg Eiland is a solid tackle. Besides, Mike Leach always seemingly assembles an effective line.

12. Missouri: Center Trystan Colon-Castillo’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft (he wasn’t selected) leaves the Tigers with junior tackle Larry Borom and guard Case Cook as the returning starters up front. They’re OK, but nothing special. Kinda like the Tigers line. Or kinda like the Tigers in general.

13. Arkansas: The Razorbacks were 111th in the nation in total offense in 2019. The offensive line doesn’t shoulder all the blame for that, but it is due its share of culpability. The Hogs averaged just 147 rushing yards. That figure plummets to 102.5 yards against SEC West opponents. Further, new starters are needed at left guard and tackle.

14. Vanderbilt: Right tackle Tyler Steen is solid, but two starters completed their eligibility and another — left tackle Devin Cochran — transferred to Georgia Tech. Vandy’s offensive front was statistically one of the weakest lines in the SEC in 2019. There are not a bunch of big-time recruits coming to the rescue.

Discussion from...

Top to bottom: Ranking the 2020 Southeastern Conference offensive lines

6,120 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 6 days ago by Agsuffering@bulaw
psybj
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bama & UGA will always be at or near the top, get the best of the big 'uns and are very deep.

LSU won the '19 Joe Moore Award for the Best OL in Nation but the year before couldn't protect the passer and lose 4 starters from '19. Even in '19 didn't have the ability to blow people back for a short yd when needed, had to rely on other ways to get there. New starter at QB is said to have quicker release than Burrow and he might need it.
psybj
hogfan14
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Arkansas has ranked about average to above average on every offensive ranking so far...except this one. I really like our skill positions but man the awful OL has killed any chances our offense has had at being decent these last few years. Franks should be an upgrade, Boyd should be one of the best RBs in the conference, and every receiver returns. Pittman has to be able to get better play out of the OL if we have any hope to be successful.
MidTnAg
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AG
With the highly experienced OL (some two year starters) we have returning, we should have an excellent year. Sadly, we thought the same last season.

#7 in the SEC in 2020 would be a huge surprise.
Agsuffering@bulaw
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Appreciate this article and looked at the details. I now think we have a coin flip or beter chance to win on the plains. This should be a defensive struggle with neither OL winning the trenches. I like our skill players in that situation. We now have a full season of film on Nix.

#7 is probably correct for us. We return experience, but the OL will only be a strength if 2-3 breakout.

OB wisely avoided bulletin board material, b/c Gus has not recruited OL well lately. They only have 3 high impact OL on their entire roster. They had to bring in 2 Juco OTs (both 3*s) and another grad transfer OT from Akron who was not even an all-MAC player.

16: OT Hamm (3*) no starts, played in 11 games last year
17: C Brahms (4*) started for half a season; OT Troxell (4*) injured in '19, played in 12 games in 18
18: OT Stutts (3*) played in 12 games, OG Irvin (3*) played in 4 games
19: all redshirted (4*) OG Jones, (3*) OT Osborne, (3*) OG Bell
20: 3 (3*) OGs, 3 (3*)OT transfers

I doubt their '19 OGs were more than SEC average and could have been beaten out by a really good underclassman (which Auburn lacked). They signed small FA deals. Harrell got $45k guaranteed and Horton got $50k. A good FA signee gets ~$100k guaranteed. Quartney got 110k.
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