As a former offensive lineman, I will own that I have much love for the big guys; the hogmollies; the big uglies; the space eaters. Ask an offensive lineman and they'll tell you that the five behemoth anchors in the trenches are the straws that stir the offensive drink. Ask any quarterback who has had a shoddy one to first clean off the back of his jersey, then pick up any teeth that may have been knocked out, and then tell you how important the big fellas protecting him are.
The issue with offensive linemen is there isn't a host of stats to fall back on other than physical attributes. At 6'4" and 326 pounds, Jordan Hansel certainly has that in spades. And it's worth mentioning that another offseason in strength coach Dave Feeley's conditioning program will help Hansel add even more bulk to that frame.
In truth, evaluating an offensive line or more specifically, any one particular person on it is often times the hardest thing to do in football evaluation. Much like birth control, the offensive line only gets exceptionally noticed when things aren't going well with more than their fair share of the blame. But when Keith Wenning rang up the third highest season total of passing yards in program history last season and Jahwan Edwards ran for the third-most rushing yards in program history, the credit went to Wenning and the skill players from the external observers. But listen to Wenning's and Edwards' post game comments and the offensive line was the driving force behind making the offense hum, and hum it did.
For Hansel, the work in 2013 is considerably more daunting than 2012, based solely on the fact that the unit as a whole lost multi-year starters like Austin Holtz, Dan Manick, Cam Lowery, and Chris Sparrow. Though the playing experience is there for 2013, the starts are not, save for Hansel. As the only returning starter, he will be the anchor of the offensive line and set the tone in fall camp and in-game that will hopefully result in a similar type of statistical output from the offense. If the unit gels and Hansel anchors a dominant front 5 then the Cards will inch closer to their presumed darkhorse MAC Championship potential. If the unit suffers from inexperience and prevents the offense from hitting their stride, it's going to be a considerably more frustrating season than any in the Lembo tenure.
Offensive lineman don't get the highlight reels. They are not the "Face of the Program" but it only takes noticing that Jordan Hansel is on the cover of the spring prospectus and part of the marketing blitz of BSU football to realize just how vital he is to the success of 2013. To borrow the logic chain of DirectTV, without Hansel, the offensive line struggles. If the offensive line struggles, the Wenning-Edwards-WR group doesn't get the time/holes/space they need to succeed. If the offense doesn't get the time it needs, the undermanned defense gets a ton of pressure put on it. Don't let the defense get a ton of pressure on it. The offensive line needs Hansel to step up and earn this top 30 ranking.
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