O-Line Depth a Concern

Co-captain Augie Hoffmann

Heading into last season, the only question about the Boston College offensive line was how many players would make the NFL. While that question is still applicable, things are slightly different in 2003.

With the graduation of Dan Koppen and Marc Parenteau, and the decision of Leo Bell to not return for his fifth year of eligibility, the Eagles lose 60% of their starting offensive line from 2002. Fortunately, the two players they return are arguably the best guard tandem in the Big East.

Left guard Chris Snee is one of the biggest, meanest, most physical guards I have ever seen. He put on 20 pounds in the offseason and will dominate opponents' interior linemen as a junior in 2003. Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Preview is so high on Snee that he ranked him the number one offensive guard in the country... during his sophomore season. Barring a major injury, this will probably be Snee's last season on the Heights as he is a lock to be selected in the first or second round of the NFL Draft.

Right guard and team co-captain Augie Hoffmann is not quite as big as Snee, but he is a tremendous pass and especially run blocker. The senior lineman will be quite effective pulling for Derrick Knight on runs to the left side of the formation and will provide leadership on a line with three new starters.

The biggest shoes to fill on the line are those of Dan Koppen, one of the steadiest centers in Boston College history. The job will be entrusted to sophomore Pat Ross who has looked quick and nimble in summer practice. He was Koppen's understudy last year and saw limited action in garbage time. He and Quinton Porter are very comfortable working with each other, as they spent last season practicing with the second-team offense.

Keith Leavitt and Jeremy Trueblood will play right and left tackle respectively. Leavitt is a senior who spent his first three seasons at BC on the defensive side of the ball. At 6'7" and 339 pounds, however, Tom O'Brien and staff felt that he was better suited to play offensive tackle. It is too bad they waited until his senior season to decide this, but I am confident that Leavitt's size alone will make him a force in the running game. Playing right tackle he will not be protecting the QB's blindside, and with two mobile signal-callers his lack of quickness will not make him a liability.

Trueblood is a monster as well, standing at 6'8" and weighing in around 315 pounds. He saw a good deal of time in 2002 at left tackle spelling the oft-ineffective Leo Bell. For his size, Trueblood is very quick and will continue the fine tradition of BC NFL-caliber linemen.

The starting five linemen are as good as any unit assembled for the past two or three seasons. The problem, however, is depth. BC lost three offensive linemen who decided to forego their fifth year of eligibility: Bell, Frank Wilpert, and Jim Connor. This forced O'Brien to move Anthony Crosson, Justin Hinds and Leavitt from defensive line to O-line. The second-team offensive line is filled with much inexperience. Highly-recruited but raw redshirt freshmen Josh Beekman and Shadu Moore will both see time at guard. Sophomore Chris Hathy will back-up Ross at center. Crosson and redshirt freshman James Marten will be the reserve tackles. The five second-team offensive linemen have played a combined zero downs of college football on offense. But the youngsters have to learn sometime, so hopefully they won't see any serious PT until the UConn and Ball State games.

Beyond the two-deep the Eagles are stacked with young talent. Gosder Cherilus, Ryan Poles, Ty Hall, Tom Anevski and Kevin Sheridan- two tackles, two guards and a center- were all brought in last February to be the Eagles' offensive line of the future. I expect all five to reshirt, put on weight, and see action in 2004.

In 2003, the BC starting offensive line will do a solid job protecting the QB and opening holes for Derrick Knight. Realistically, each of the five first-team linemen has a legit shot of playing in the NFL. Trueblood and Ross are still young and have the tools, Snee and Hoffmann are locks, and Leavitt could impress scouts with a dominant 2003 campaign. The only question in the hearts and minds of BC fans is what happens if a starter or two goes down. Can the second-team step up? Let us hope we don't have to find out the answer to that question.

Michael Chevallier is the publisher of EagleInsider.com. He can be reached at EagleInsiderGuru@aol.com.

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