What’s always one of the more interesting stat compilations of the off-season was released a few days ago — Phil Steele’s list of the returning offensive line starts for every team in college football.
It’s no secret that UW’s offensive line had a lot of issues last season. It’s also no secret that much of the optimism for 2013 is based on the fact that every key player on the line returns except for center Drew Schaefer, and that the lines of Colin Tanigawa and Erik Kohler — who each missed all but two games last season — are expected to return healthy.
As I noted in the spring, UW can return a player at every spot on the line who started at least six games in 2012. the kind of experience and depth the Huskies have not had up front during the Steve Sarkisian era.
Steele’s stats bear out the experience UW has on the line, while also making it evident that a lot of other teams in a Pac-12 that was overall on the young side last season also have reasons for optimism when it comes to their offensive lines.
Here’s a breakout of the Pac-12 teams on Steele’s list of returning offensive line starts by team:
Oregon State, 90
Arizona State, 65
Cal and Utah, 28
As is evident, two other teams that UW will have to contend with in the Pac-12 North this season — and play on the road — can boast of having slightly more experienced lines in Oregon State and Stanford. And Oregon, while having a little less experience, has shown an ability to reload rather than have to rebuild on its line the last few years.
And no doubt, having really good players trumps simply having experience.
But if there is a spot, along with quarterback,where experience has often seemed to matter quite a bit in college football, it’s on the offensive line. UW has that this season. We’ll begin to find out in August how much it’ll matter.