1. Andrew Phillips Sr ...Stanford
2. Mark Asper Jr ...Oregon
3. Ryan Tolar Sr ...Washington
4. Butch Lewis Sr ...USC
5. Carson York So ...Oregon
Not exactly a banner class of guards this season when compared to the centers we reviewed yesterday. All five of these guys are excellent college football players but none of the seniors really project well in the 2011 draft at this point which is typical because the NFL is fond of making college guards into NFL tackles.
Carson York projects the best in this group and he is only a sophomore. David Decastro who is a sophomore at Stanford is another guy that projects well in the future. Vaugn Dotsy of Arizona is another guy that could be included in most top five's.
Washington went into the Stanford game with high expectations last season but they were unable to stop the Stanford offense and their bull of a running back Toby Gerhart. Gerhart obviously was outstanding but what made him such a force was the way his offensive line blocked for him. Andrew Phillips returns as one of the leaders of that unit and it is projected to be among the best in the conference.
In Stanford's bread-and-butter play, power, it's a guard who has arguably the toughest assignment: pull around the center, beat the defender to the point of attack, block him out of the way and make the play work. It stands to reason then that guard Andrew Phillips deserves as much credit as anyone for making Stanford's 2009 offense click, and Wyndam Makowsky sits down with him this week.
Oregon's Mark Asper started 12 of 13 games last season and recorded 54 pancake blocks during the season. Asper will be 25 years old when the season starts. He took two years off from school to go on a mission.
“As linemen,’’ Asper said, “most of that call is jibberish to us. ‘Left Tom triple X 90-3-2 inside run.’ OK, it’s an inside run.’’ The Ducks couldn’t elaborate on the meaning of the images for obvious reasons, but Asper said it’s not rocket science. “It’s just like the signals – each thing stands for different things,’’ Asper said. “We’re simple creatures. If a guy has a cap, it’s a cap. It’s real simple, real basic. Clover? OK, lucky, Irish – something like that. “It’s not, ‘OK, I have to add the top square and the bottom square.’ We’re not dividing matrices out there. And you can immediately see what’s there, as opposed to going through the dance of all the formations.’’
Washington's Ryan Tolar has made a lot of progress since he arrived in Montlake a little plumper than he would have liked. Tolar has been transformed after a full year of tutelage under UW strength coach Ivan Lewis. Ryan has always been a good athlete but having the weight in the right places is an indication that he will have a great senior season. Another thing that will help him will be moving back to the guard position. Line calls were never his strong point and the coaches feel he will play better without that responsibility.
"Just doing some research on the guys," Cozzetto said of what led to the changes. "We've only been here a year and just going back to positions that they had played before. Ryan Tolar seems a heck of a lot more comfortable at guard. We're trying to create as much competition as we can, get them as good as they can be."
USC's Butch Lewis is steady and experienced. He has started at both offensive guard and tackle and will be starting at guard this season under new head coach Lane Kiffin.
O’Dowd, Lewis, Smith and Kalil are givens, in my opinion. The battle to watch is at guard between Heberer and Holmes. Heberer has the edge in experience, Holmes in size and upside. It wouldn’t surprise me if their duel continued in the fall. Of course, that’s when super-freshman Seantrel Henderson arrives, adding much-needed depth and pushing Kalil and Smith for playing time.
Oregon's Carson York started all 13 games last season as a RS freshman. The key to success for Oregon over the past decade has been the building and reloading of the offensive line.
“It’s been quite a growing experience. Starting off, you think you’re OK, but you have no idea, really. The first three, four games, I thought I was going to puke before the game. But as you progress you get into a comfort zone and figure out how to prepare yourself.”