All week long TSD will post scouting reports on the TCU Horned Frogs in advance of Saturday night’s LSU season opener in Arlington.
PREVIOUS SCOUTING REPORT
Scouting Report: TCU Offensive Skill Players
Today we turn our attention to the Frogs’ offensive line, a group with three sophomores and two seniors in the projected starting lineup. TCU’s front five will have to replace several starters from a season ago, most notably center James Fry and right guard Blaize Foltz.
It’s a talented group for the Horned Frogs, but, much like LSU’s O-Line, it’s not a terribly experienced bunch and there is at least one major piece moving places. Below I’ll list TCU’s starting offensive line, break the group down and then take a peek at matchups with LSU’s defensive line.
LT: Aviante Collins (6-6, 285, So.)
LG: James Dunbar (6-6, 315, Sr.)
C: Joey Hunt (6-3, 295, So.)
RG: Eric Tausch (6-3, 300, Sr.)
RT: Halapoulivaati Vaitai (6-6, 308, So.)
Notable Backups: OG John Wooldridge (6-5, 310, Sr.), OG Jamelle Naff (6-4, 325, Sr.) and Patrick Morris (6-3, 288, Fr.)
OUTLOOK & ANALYSIS
For all the talk about LSU’s lack of experience along the offensive line, the numbers say TCU is in an almost-identical situation entering the 2013 season. The projected starting five above has logged a combined 28 career starts. By comparison LSU’s O-Line has a combined 30 career starts. Maybe most interesting of all, TCU RG Eric Tausch is the only player on either team’s O-Line to have started a game before the 2012 season. Clearly we’re looking at two relatively green lines for these teams.
Tausch may be the most tenured TCU O-Linemen with 14 career starts (at three different positions no less), but the guy with the most upside seems to be LT Aviante Collins. Last season, as a true freshman, Collins started all 13 games – 10 at right tackle and three on the blindside, where he will pick back up this season full-time. Much like new LSU LT La’el Collins, Aviante Collins is poised for a big year in his new digs at left tackle.
The other two sophomores on the TCU line, C Joey Hunt and RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (known simply as “Big V”), have significantly less experience than Collins, although both did feature in limited action in 2012 as true freshmen. Hunt, who came to campus as defensive tackle, actually made a start at left guard last fall while Big V saw time in five games in his first collegiate season.
Starting senior LG James Dunbar has zero career starts to his name and actually was forced to sit out the 2012 campaign. It’s worth noting that on the official TCU depth chart, Dunbar is also listed as the backup left tackle to Collins. Elsewhere on the O-Line, backup RG John Wooldridge has one career start to his name, backup LG Jamelle Naff saw time in five of the Frogs’ final six Big 12 games last season and backup C Patrick Morris, a true freshman, was the No. 8 center in the country in last year’s recruiting class, as ranked by Scout.com.
MATCHUPS WITH LSU
For an LSU defensive line breaking in a number of first-time starters and even rotational platoon players, it could be a lot worse than facing this TCU offensive front. Now, that’s not a slight against the Horned Frogs’ O-Line at all, just an indication that TCU is also dealing with a great deal of newness on its side of the ball as well.
As mentioned above Collins (6-6, 285) is a handful at left tackle. He’ll likely draw a regular assignment against Jermauria Rasco, LSU’s best pass rusher at defensive end, and could also see occasional snaps against Danielle Hunter and Tashawn Bower. On the other end expect LSU to send DE Jordan Allen up against Big V most of the time. Allen is easily the Tigers’ biggest defensive end and can better match up with Vaitai’s size than the rest of the bunch, especially versus the run game. If one of the other ends lines up opposite Big V, it’s more than likely because position coach Brick Haley thinks he can sneak a speed pass rusher past the big man at right tackle (the same principle applies to blitzing a dime back or linebacker on that side).
On the interior TCU definitely has the size to deal with LSU’s starting DT combo of Anthony Johnson (294 pounds) and Ego Ferguson (309 pounds). Dunbar weighs 315 pounds at LG, Hunt weighs 295 pounds at center and Tausch is an even 300 pounds at RG. The bigger question will be can those three for the Frogs match the athleticism and rush ability Ferguson, Johnson and backup Christian Lacouture possess. Freak has the capability of taking over at any time, and Hunt especially is likely to need some help against him in pass situations.
How do you feel LSU’s D-Line matches up with TCU’s offensive line?
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