A Wild Hare Discussion around the Offensive Line

As the fall camp has progressed and very little information trickles out, we are left to speculate on depth charts and camp performance. While I like to write about stuff that I can see on video, I jump to much more radical conclusions and play with a notebook to write down my crazy theories.

One of the things I keep convincing myself of is the potential that TJ Jackson sees the field this season. Jackson came into VT unheralded. He is massive and a good athlete (played high school basketball) but was introduced to football very late in his high school career. His film was unimpressive, and a bunch of folks questioned the offer. I felt like he had really good size, and if his feet were commensurate with that of an average high school basketball post player, that he would be a guy who could develop (and if not, he would wash out.)

I have been shocked at how good Jackson has looked in pass protection drills. He is smooth, gets great extension, and it seems like it doesn't matter what the defender does-leverage, bull rush, speed rush, he has perfect position and balance throughout the repetition. While I didn't have the benefit of film, I don't recall him blowing assignments in the spring game. While he didn't blow people off the line of scrimmage, he seemed to do a decent job of staying engaged on blocks.

Given the question marks on the right side, I have convinced myself that Jackson, as the likely starting left tackle for 2018, will get some work this season. I could see a scenario where Nijman (who is solid, but had some yips, especially versus Chris Peace of UVA before their genius DC thought it would be a good idea to have his best pass rusher cover Cam Phillips on 3rd down, resulting in a first down and an injury for Peace), could move to the right side. Tyrell Smith (who I am completely confident will start at right tackle, but just in case...) could work at right guard. And Jackson would get work at left tackle.

I doubt it happens, but he has huge natural talent. I hope he has or develops the mean streak and attention to detail needed to be a good run blocker. But, as a pass protector, his upside has me salivating.

Comments

Well allright, allright allright! I like your thinking Mr. French! Go TJ!

That's my TJ!

If this a wild hair discussion about the O-line shouldn't it mention Teller?

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Now look, I love a wild hair as much as the next guy, but why flip Nijman to the right side???? I'm sure you have logical well thought out rationale..... or is it more like your hatred of cheese?

"Don't go to, go through"

More to create balance. Jackson is just as good a pass protector. Put Nijman on the right side because he is the better run blocker.

Again, this is me essentially fantasy booking my depth chart based on about 4 minutes of video over 2 weeks of work. I doubt it happens. But, if Jackson looks the same way scrimmaging that he looks in that drill, he is going to make Vice make some tough decisions regarding personnel.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Does your guesstimation on this O-line starting squad take into account that we've got a lefty and two righties competing for QB? Would it make a difference on who plays where depending if Bush wins versus JJ/Hooker?

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

I don't think it matters at all. There's so much more to the offense than protecting the blind side of the QB (not to mention a college QB can be much more effectively disrupted by an impending hit he can actually see coming) that I wouldn't imagine it's much of a consideration at all. Put guys where they're most comfortable and effective in the offense.

No, only because the way they rarely throw cup pass protections means the ball will come out quickly and at different angles than normal cup protection. It is more likely that Jackson gets work on the right side.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Hey French, this may be the wrong thread to ask this, but it is OL related. Have you looked at film at all for 2019 OT James Collins? He's admittedly only a 2-star recruit, but to my untrained eye it seems like he does a decent job of staying on blocks (if he doesn't pancake them).

I wonder if it would be worth offering him for a couple reasons:
1) we need bodies and he has good size
2) even more interesting, he is HS teammates with 2019 4* CB Cam'Ron Kelly, who looks like a BALLER. Wonder if that could help in his recruitment (Kelly is also apparently close to Hunter).

I know we shouldn't offer kids to recruit other kids, but OL is a need and wondering if he could be a win-win.