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Author: Jared Kalmus – @JaredUTSA
Welcome to the beginning of our 2021 position previews! With the season fast approaching (for real, less than two months until kickoff), it’s time to take stock of each unit on the roster and see where the Roadrunners’ strengths and weaknesses reside. Let’s kick things off with the unsung heroes on the offensive line. This position preview is available to everyone, however the rest of the position previews will be available to subscribers only.
UTSA returns all but five starts from 2020’s bowl squad. Josh Oatis is the only departure, however Oatis’ starts were spurred by injury. When UTSA had the five projected starters listed above available, the offense played with a different tempo and effectiveness.
Burford and Maka lead the way as UTSA’s all-conference honorees, however Makai Hart is just as talented as anyone on this offensive line. Hart held UTSA’s highest blocking grades on Pro Football Focus last year, all while managing to avoid any penalty whistles. If Hart can stay healthy for 12 games then this offense will be considerably better in 2021.
The starting lineup is more or less locked in at the two tackle spots (Burford and Hart), center (Maka), and right guard (Davis), however the left guard spot could see some competition. Terrell Haynes started the last six games of the season but Brandon Rolfe looked really good in his injury-limited playing time last season. Haynes is a more powerful blocker but Rolfe’s quickness proved useful in getting to the second level last season.
Once again, we can feel comfortable with the level of depth returning in the trenches for the Roadrunners. That’s still a strange feeling that I’m still getting used to! This season 10 players return with over 100 snaps played in 2020. Better yet, most of these guys started games last year as well.
Outside of Rolfe, key depth pieces will include super senior Dominic Pastucci, sophomore Demetris Allen, and redshirt senior Jalyn Galmore. Expect Galmore to man the swing reserve tackle role as he bounces back from a string of injuries in 2019 and 2020. While Galmore hasn’t started a game since 2018, he’s been highly graded in each of his appearances, allowing zero sacks over 199 pass blocking snaps.
Kam Scott – Hulking lineman who played at both tackle and guard for Converse Judson. Has likely outgrown the tackle spot and will need to shed weight to regain the quickness that made him a high three-star recruit in his junior year of high school. Scott’s pure strength could allow him to see early playing time if UTSA suffers a stretch of catastrophic injuries on the offensive line.
Ronnie Garza – The recruit I’m highest on out of this group, Garza has plus athleticism and the frame to play at a nimble 310 pounds as he grows into his body. He’s the freshman lineman most likely to contribute this season.
Luke Lapeze – A slept-on recruit out of the Houston area, Lapeze showed tremendous growth in his senior season. Could factor into the equation at offensive guard after Kevin Davis graduates.
River Gordon – A brawler with a quick first step, Gordon will likely stick at center at the collegiate level. Will need to play with better pad level to flourish at UTSA.
Robert Rigsby – Scott’s teammate at Judson, Rigsby has the size to clear space in the middle of the field but he’ll need to improve his agility to be able to execute all of the blocks that will be asked of him in UTSA’s scheme.
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