Going into the 2015 season, one of the strengths of the Red Raiders was predicted to be the offensive line. A solid group led by an All-American left tackle surrounded by members who had been with the team for a while plus a newcomer with a lot of potential. Unfortunately in 2016, most of the line will be made up of different members. After back to back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, how will this new look impact Tech's style of play? The best thing about having the new group is a quarterback in Mahomes that seems to be as comfortable inside the pocket as he is outside it, running around, making ridiculous plays downfield with a cannon of an arm.
The post-spring depth chart had starting, from left to right, LeRaven Clark, Alfredo Morales, Jared Kaster, Baylen Brown, and Justin Murphy. 3 seniors, a junior, and Murphy, a young lineman with a lot of potential. The first game starters were Clark, Kaster, Brown, and the 2 Morales brothers. Clark, Kaster, and Alfredo would end up starting all 13 games. Murphy would end up starting the next 4 games, suffering a season-ending injury against Baylor. Baylen was injured in the OU game and missed 2 starts before coming back fully for KSU. Tony Morales would start in 6 games, and play in 10, but received a medical hardship to come back for 2016.
What We're Losing
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Ouch, that's going to hurt. Our 4 seniors that are leaving played in every game of 2015. At the beginning of the season, before the injuries to Brown, and Murphy especially, Mahomes was just not getting sacked. He was sacked only once in September, but 12 times in October. The quality of competition obviously increased as the season went along, but the play of the OL was greatly diminished after Murphy went out.
In 2016, this could be a rather large problem. Murphy is expected to be back, as is Baylen Brown. Tony Morales, one of the unluckiest players in regards to injuries will hopefully be able to participate as well. Other than that, there is very little experience on the line. Redshirt freshmen Madison Akomnonu and Conner Dyer, a couple 4-star recruits out of the DFW area, are expected to be in the battle for positions on the line in 2016. Poet Thomas will be a junior next year, and backed up Clark this past season, getting action in a couple games.
The talent and experience level on the offensive line seems to have dropped from 2015 to 2016. Luckily for Tech, we don't have a tree as a quarterback. Mahomes' ability to scramble and make plays out of nothing will be of utmost importance this upcoming season, and will have to make up for the lack of experience on the line. The spring game on April 16th will be the first look at the new line, and a new depth chart to protect the best damn quarterback in the nation.