Coug O-Line Takes Another Hit

So the news broke yesterday, that Steven Ayers is shutting it down due to a series of concussions.  It’s a tough break for the junior-to-be, a veteran listed as the backup to B.J. Guerra at right guard in the pre-spring depth chart.  The rumor was floated over the weekend, and made the rounds during the spring game that he may have to call it a career, and now it’s pretty clear that it is all over for Ayers.

Where does it leave the interior of the offensive line?  Well, it’s thin, especially now at right guard.  Without Ayers, at least per the spring depth chart, redshirt sophomore Michael Pfeif could ascend up the ladder, right behind Guerra as the first option off the bench.  But most likely, we are going to see Tim Hodgdon slide over if needed, the redshirt frosh who would be the primary backup at left guard.  Or maybe Sebastian Valenzuela, the 6-2, 320-pound redshirt frosh who is listed as a center but could move to guard?  Heck, even Chris Prummer could possibly move there from center as well?  

I don’t think you will see either of the new JC guys, David Gonzalez or Wade Jacobson, move down inside from tackle.  Both of the newcomers are in the 6-6, 300 lb mold, the ideal, natural build of an offensive tackle.  Besides, if you dig what’s been said about Jacobson this spring, it’s clear he’s got a fantastic chance to start at left tackle anyway, and Gonzalez had a decent spring as well.  And I don’t think this loss will necessarily clinch it that incoming frosh tackle John Fullington will burn the redshirt this fall either, although that can certainly change depending on fall camp! 

Anyway, the point is that yes, it hurts to lose Ayers.  Probably the number one position group on the entire football team that needs to show drastic improvement – the offensive line – they didn’t exactly need to lose an experienced backup.  I mean we know injures are going to come, it’s just the way it is, and you would love to tap a guy like Ayers to come off the bench.  But this isn’t the end of the world, and there are some options if they have to start shuffling.  The scary part is the lack of experience by Hodgdon, or Valenzuela for that matter.  Neither guy has played a down of college football.  As we have seen far too many times the last couple of seasons, young offensive linemen generally STRUGGLE in their first go-around in the conference!  Let’s hope for a nice run of health for B.J. Guerra…..

One other thing today is Howie Stalwick’s long write-up at Cougfan on Kevin Kooyman, as well as some other interesting items post-spring ball.  Included in the story is that senior D-tackles Bernard Wolfgramm AND Josh Luapo are both facing some serious academic issues in order to get eligible next fall, and that while Wolfgramm isn’t in as dire a situation, Luapo could be considered “pessimistic”.  Add in the already-departed Toby Turpin, and it’s starting to feel like “uh-oh” time along the defensive interior……or is it??

As the story points out, good thing Brandon Rankin had such a strong spring at tackle, hmmmm!?!  And don’t forget about some emerging young depth like Anthony Laurenzi, Dan Spitz, and Justin Clayton inside.  We’ll see what happens there, but losing either Luapo or Wolfgramm will definitely open the door for some of the younger D-tackles. 

All for now.  GO COUGS!

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