College Football Preseason Predictions: 10 Great RBs Who Need an O-Line
Behind every great offensive lineman is a running back who gets all the credit.
Unfortunately for those offensive lineman they usually get the majority of the blame if the same running back isn't producing.
With the college football season quickly approaching, offensive line coaches have been playing with their depth charts in the hope of finding a perfect combination to allow those running backs to do what they do best.
Most running backs will have to get used to one or two new faces... errr, backsides this season, but some will be missing their former lineman more than others.
Here is a look at 10 great running backs who need better offensive lines.
Josh Adams- Wake Forest
Josh Adams averaged 4.8 yards per carry and scored four times in 2009.
The Deamon Deacons used Adams to supplement an offense garnered toward quarterback Riley Skinner's throwing arm, and also built their line to protect Skinner.
With Skinner gone, Wake Forest will switch back to an option style run offense, featuring Adams and their strongest lineman on the same side of the line.
Wake Forest loses five offensive lineman with starting experience, including two three-year starters and a four-year starter.
The returning lineman have 45 career starts amongst them, with most belonging to Senior center Russel Nenon. This puts them in the lower half of the FBS rankings.
Baron Batch- Texas Tech
Baron Batch gained 903 yards and scored 14 touchdowns behind an offensive line that featured three seniors: tackle Marlon Winn, guard Brandon Carter, and center Shawn Byrnes.
The Red Raiders return two starters to this year's squad, but Coach Tommy Tuberville has installed a few new offensive line schemes.
Chris Olsen is the lone senior returning in 2010, and he'll be playing center this year despite starting at tackle and guard last year.
Olsen will be joined by three sophomores and one junior on the line, and the unit as a whole only has 29 career starts between them.
Brandon Bolden- Mississippi
Brandon Bolden rushed for 663 yards in 2009 whilst playing second fiddle to Dexter McCluster.
First Team SEC tackle John Jerry had a big hand in the success of the duo, but Jerry, along with four other players with starting experienced, has graduated.
Freshman center Evan Swindall is expected to start from day one in Oxford, meaning he will be the third true freshman (Michael Oher and John Jerry) to start on the offensive line since 2005.
The rest of the line is practically as inexperienced as Swindall, as there are only 22 career starts amongst the lineman on the Rebels' depth chart.
Coach Huston Nutt is dealing with the least experienced line of his tenure.
Larry Caper- Michigan State
Larry Caper rushed for 503 yards and six touchdowns behind an offensive line that replaced three starters and was plagued with injuries for the better part of 2009.
This season is no different for the Spartans, as they lose three starters from last year, including three year starter Joel Nichterman.
Coach Mark Dantonio moved defensive lineman Antonio Jeremiah to the offensive side of the ball, and Jeremiah is expected to start at a guard position.
The Spartans have 43 career starts amongst the returning lineman, but after the projected starters are several unproven red shirt freshman.
Kendall Hunter- Oklahoma State
Kendall Hunter teamed up with Keith Toston to rush for 1637 yards in 2009.
The duo benefited greatly from All American tackle Russel Okung, however, and Hunter will be without him in 2010.
In addition to Okung, the Cowboys lose four players with starting experience along the line, including three year starter Brady Bond.
Sophomore guard Lane Taylor has the most starting experience amongst the returning lineman, as he started 11 games in 2009.
The rest of the lineman have only one career start between them.
Those 12 career starts rank #117 in the FBS rankings.
Derrick Locke- Kentucky
Derrick Locke benefited greatly from having two 2nd Team SEC lineman in center Jorge Gonzalez and tackle Zipp Duncan in front of him in 2009.
Locke rushed for 961 yards and six touchdowns.
The Wildcats lose both Gonzalez and Duncan, as well as two other players with starting experience from last year's depth chart.
Junior guard Stuart Hines is the most experienced lineman returning, as he earned third Team SEC honors last year, but there are only 18 career starts amongst the rest of the lineman joining him.
Cameron Marshall- Arizona State
Cameron Marshall rushed for 294 yards as the second tailback on Arizona States depth chart.
The offensive line has been a unit that has vexed Coach Dennis Erickson for his whole tenure in Tempe.
Tackle Shawn Lauvao was the lone shining star on an offensive line that had eight different players start in 2009.
The Devils lose Lauvao, as well as three other lineman with starting experience.
Coach Erickson recruited the offensive line heavily in the 2009 class, adding three junior college transfers.
All three transfers, including USC de-commmit Bryce Schwab are expected to start in 2010, as the Devils are once again experiencing injuries.
Guard Jon Hargis tore his ACL in the spring and is expected to miss the season and guard Zack Schlink is still unproven after recovering from a similar injury.
Alfred Morris- Florida Atlantic
Alfred Morris rushed for a jaw-dropping 1429 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009, behind a big, experienced, and healthy offensive line.
All five senior lineman started all 12 games for the Owls.
Florida Atlantic has to replace all of their lineman in 2010 and the returning players have zero career starts amongst them.
Four of the projected starters are sophomores, with guard Samuel McRoy being the lone junior.
Morris should have the NFL calling his name if he puts up numbers anywhere close to the ones he put up in 2009.
Lamon Muldrow- San Jose State
Lamon Muldrow rushed for 634 yards in 2009.
The Spartans lost Remington Trophy candidate Ronnie Castillo, as well as four other lineman with starting experience.
San Jose State hired Mike MacIntyre as the new head coach and he indicated that he might be shaking things up on the offensive line.
The Spartans would have had 94 career starts amongst the returning starters, but considering they only had 77 yards per game and allowed 34 sacks in 2009, perhaps Coach MacIntyre is making the smart decision to try out some fresh faces.
Jared Tew- Air Force
Jared Tew ran for 976 yards and scored nine touchdowns last year behind five senior starters
Five seniors starting in 2009 means five new faces in 2010.
The Falcons have only 1 career start amongst their returning offensive lineman, which places the mat second to last in the FBS rankings.
Not only is the offensive line inexperienced, but they are significantly smaller (258 lb average) than last years unit.
Unless the lineman greatly exceed expectations, last year's average of 283 yards per game will drop significantly.