August 7, 2010

Cardinal Camp preview: Offensive Line

The 2009 Stanford offense set school rushing records led by a dominant offensive line. Four of those starters return but the loss if Chris Marinelli leaves a big hole at right tackle. As the 2010 camp opens the question mark at tackle and adding depth are the two issues that Cardinal coaches will focus on.

Biggest question: Who will win the starting right tackle job?
Chris Marinelli started 41 games for Stanford, including all 13 in 2009 and was a first team All-Pac-10. His versatility, toughness and leadership leave a big hole for the Cardinal to fill. The candidates for taking over at right tackle include two seniors and a true freshman. James McGillicuddy and Derek Hall, both seniors, flipped back and forth on the depth chart this spring and neither player took a hold of the job. Which opens the door for Cameron Fleming, a true freshman from Houston, Texas. A sixth-year senior, McGillicuddy, recovering from two knee injuries, played a significant role as a back-up in 2009, appearing in all 13 games as an interior lineman.

What we know right now: The Stanford offensive line is the best in the Pac-10

With four returning starters, a combined 66 career starts and allowing the second-fewest sacks in the nation last season the Cardinal boast the top OL in the conference and in the nation. C Chase Beeler is on several pre-season watch lists. And redshirt sophomores David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin were both on several freshman All-American lists following last season.
Fresh fall camp faces: Cameron Fleming, Cole Underwood, David Yankey, Dillon Bonnell

Stanford landed a stellar group of lineman in the 2010 recruiting class and all figure to be solid contributors, if not starters in the near future. One or two will likely see playing time in 2010 as Stanford searches for a starter at right tackle and depth along the line. Fleming, from summer workout observations, appears to be the most ready to contibute early in 2001. Coaches will take a long look at Fleming for the right tackle spot and Yankey is another prospect to keep an eye on. With the right tackle slot open, both will have the opportunity to step up and earn a starting spot.
Early camp prediction

At the end of spring "Cuddy" was listed atop Hall on the depth chart but it was a mixed spring for both seniors. Neither was close to nailing down the starting nod. Moving guard DeCastro has been mentioned by Stanford coaches but that is something they don't want to do. The hope is Fleming proves physically and mentally ready to make a serious challenge for the job, if McGillicuddy or Hall don't make significant strides from spring. The innovation and sophistication of the Stanford running attack will be a hurdle any freshman will have to climb over.

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