Up front: Questions regarding the OL

rockford

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What I'll be watching for along the OL in the opener:

1) What happens at LT? – Sam Schlueter took a lot of grief for his performance at RT last year before being supplanted by Daniel Faalele. Now Schlueter is charged with protecting the blind side of our one experienced QB. (If you really want to count half of a season as “experienced.”) What happened to Jason Dickson, who at one time seemed to be the heir-apparent at LT? Will both see a fair amount of action? How the playing time is split up here may give us some indication of who the staff sees as the long-term solution. Is Schlueter the answer, or is he being rewarded for being a good soldier, and to put pressure on Dickson to win the job? Biggest question of the game, as far as I'm concerned.

2) How does Curtis Dunlap do at RG? – Dunlap got his first start in the bowl game last year, and was aight. No concerns here going into the season, but it would certainly allow some unclenching of the rectum if he proves to be as a road-ready as his IMG chum Faalele.

3) Is Big Daddy ready to take it up a notch? –
Faalele had a more-than-solid freshman season, no doubt. But let's be honest here: The hype around him was based more on his sheer size and athleticism, rather than his polished performance on the field. Yeah, he was good. But he has the potential to be once-in-a-lifetime good. So I'm not wondering if he's improved. I'm wondering how much he's improved. And if the answer is “quite a bit,” it's going to be an awful lot of fun watching him bounce people around this year.

4) Will Blaise Andries stick at LG? – Yeah, he's going to be starting someplace. Dude was solid last year. But they tried him out at LT in the bowl game, and he seemed to be up to the task. Andries may very well be the second or third option for LT … maybe even the first. But that would leave a large question mark for LG. And that leads us to this question:

5) Where's the depth? – Conner Olson is going to be fine at center, which means that we have exactly three guys we know we can count on to fill five spots on the OL. Yeah, it's probably safe to assume that Dunlap is going to start every game the rest of his career, unless he's physically unable. So that's four. But what if (gulp!) someone goes down? John Michael Schmitz appears to be the first man up at center or either guard spot. If neither Schlueter or Dickson are able to nail down the LT spot, I would expect Andries to go there, with Schmitz as the new guard. That leaves Nate Umlor to backup the guard spots.

Olson, Andries and Faalele are a damn nice foundation. I think we're all expecting big things from Dunlap, as well. After that, we have questions. And the answers may very well determine the trajectory of the season.

JTG
 

short ornery norwegian

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On Fleck's radio show this week (the official one - "Gopher football weekly with...) he was asked specifically about Schlueter, and Fleck really praised him. Said after last year, Schlueter was really motivated to improve, so he worked hard, got a lot stronger, and has really improved. So, we'll see how he looks, but sounds like the head coach thinks he deserves to be the starter.
 

Gophers_4life

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On Fleck's radio show this week (the official one - "Gopher football weekly with...) he was asked specifically about Schlueter, and Fleck really praised him. Said after last year, Schlueter was really motivated to improve, so he worked hard, got a lot stronger, and has really improved. So, we'll see how he looks, but sounds like the head coach thinks he deserves to be the starter.
That’s awesome to hear!

At the very least, we can all tip our cap to Sam for not only not quitting after getting benched last year, but lighting a fire under his butt to work hard at his weaknesses.
 

GopherSteak

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If Sam is better than last year, especially pass blocking, then he will be a solid contributor. At TE in the bowl game he run blocked really well I thought.
 

C'Mon Man

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walked past some of the linemen at the state fair and Schlueter stuck out in terms of size compared to the guys he was with. Looks like he bulked up his frame. excited to see what these guys can do this year.
 
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