Roster Snapshot: Tackles

How will the offensive tackles play out in 2017?

Another offensive line position that may be in flux. We dig deep into the offensive tackles.

No. Player Position Ht/Wt Year
64 Ethan Smith Tackle 6-6/275 Junior
70 Zach Adams Tackle 6-6/315 RS Freshman
58 Madison Akamnonu Tackle 6-5/310 Sophomore
78 Terence Steele Tackle 6-6/300 Sophomore
79 Travis Bruffy Tackle 6-6/270 Sophomore

*Keep in mind that this is only players who will be at Texas Tech in the spring.

This is a little bit easier to figure out because there just aren’t a ton of options. Long-term, I do love the ability of Akamnonu and Steele. And when we mention about true freshmen playing, just remember how highly rated Akamnonu was and how he struggled as a redshirt freshman. This isn’t a negative or an indictment, but playing on the offensive line is difficult for these young guys, most particularly because of the lack of overall strength and consistency.

The consistency it takes to play at tackle is one of those things that’s off the charts and by the Baylor game, Lee Hays completely flipped the script. Here was his lineup for that game:

LT: Baylen Brown
LG: Madison Akamnonu
C: Tony Morales
RG: Paul Stawarz
RT: Terence Steele

Akamnonu had been on the right side for what seemed like most of the season, while Steele seemed like he was the left tackle for 10 games. Heck, Bailey Smith even got the start against Iowa State and we see how things went there offensively.

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And maybe this needs to come back to Hays more than anything else. Hays threw a ton against the wall to see what would stick and it seemed he tinkered and toyed with the lineup for the entire season. Part of that is the bottom falling out of the players retiring or leaving the team: Justin Murphy, Robert Castaneda, Conner Dyer, Trace Ellison and Cody Wheeler. Castaneda and Ellison were dismissed, but Murphy, Wheeler and Dyer all leaving due to injuries.

For me, the offensive line just hasn’t looked that good for the past two years and I’m being awfully critical of an offensive line in 2015 that was actually really good by most of the advanced metrics. It seemed that the entire right side of the line was wrecked once Murphy went down and had it not been for Emeka Okafor to plug in and play his senior year, it would have been complete disaster.

Maybe more than anything, I feel like the line should be more cohesive since Hays has been here as long as Kingsbury.  Not only that, but the frames  of these players really need to transform over the course of the offseason and the same could be said for all of the redshirt freshmen, like Adams and Bruffy. Rusty Whitt has his work cut out for him because I think it’s not only bodies needing to add weight, but certain players need reduce that frame and add serious strength.

I remember loving Adams film coming out of high school. And this isn’t to say that I don’t think things can’t get back on track, but guys like Adams, Bruffy, Bailey Smith and Gio Pancotti have to be competent back-ups. They all need to make a move.

So Hays and Whitt have the opportunity to set the standard starting now. The freshman group from last year, with Steele and Akamanonu need to be the base and a guy like Case Verhulst needs to add to that. These guys have to stick around and finish the fight otherwise, this position won’t get turned around.


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