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NCAA Football Pac 12 Football

2013 Preseason Pac 12 Offensive Line Power Rankings

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2013 Preseason Pac 12 Offensive Line Rankings

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Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Offenses can’t do much without the benefit of a strong offensive line. If you look at the best teams in the Pac 12, you will see that they have massive and talented linemen leading the way. Conversely, look towards the bottom of the conference and you will find the teams that struggled to put a solid unit together in 2012. Expect more of the same in 2013.

There are a number of All-American candidates ready to lead the way this season across multiple offensive lines in the Pac 12. There are big bruising lines that will physically manhandle defensive fronts and there are more athletic lines that are better suited to finesse defenses out of their way. There are some the excel at pass blocking or run blocking, but the best of them are great at both.

The Pac 12 should expect to see some fantastic line play in the coming season. Many of the coaches have built their units up to be physical at the point of attack and open up holes for running backs while being athletic enough to keep their quarterbacks upright. If a team can’t field a solid front-five on their offense, their plans will be busted before they ever get going. After all, everything gets started in the trenches.

So who is best suited to win in the trenches in 2013? There are some teams that have already established themselves with dominant offensive lines and others looking to unlock the potential of previously untested muscle. As the season gets closer, let’s take a look at the preseason rankings for offensive lines in the Pac 12 heading into the 2013 season.

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12. Washington State Cougars

elliott bosch
Jake Roth - USA TODAY Sports

The Cougars’ offensive line was arguably the worst unit in the entire country last season. They gave up 57 sacks and averaged just 29 yards rushing per game in 2012, both good for dead last in college football. They have three of their starters back from last season, but every position is an open competition so expect some fresh faces to make an impact following a 2013 recruiting class that was strong with offensive linemen.

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11. Colorado Buffaloes

Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports

The good news: Colorado gets four starters back from last season. The bad news: those starters formed a unit that gave up 50 sacks averaged just 3.1 yards per rush in 2012. Still, there is potential for this group to come together and make some noise. Right guard Daniel Munyer was an honorable mention All-Pac 12 last season and tackle Stephane Nembot has physical talent to spare. Now they just need to turn that potential into a cohesive unit that can block somebody.

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10. Cal Bears

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Russ Isabella - USA TODAY Sports

The Bears are getting just a pair of starters back in 2013, but they have the benefit of having the massive and talented Freddie Tagalao stepping in at left tackle. How well the unit picks up the brand new offense of Sonny Dykes and acclimates itself to the speed of major college football will go a long way in determining how good this unit becomes next season.

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9. Utah Utes

Russ Isabella - USA TODAY Sports

The Utes are getting just two starters and 28 total starts coming back on the line for 2013, good enough for No. 117 in the country. However, they have a rising star in left tackle Jeremiah Poutasi and all reports this spring have raved about how well the unit has been playing. If they are able to overcome their overwhelming inexperience, they could be a surprisingly strong unit in the Pac 12 this fall.

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8. Washington Huskies

Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports

Much of Washington’s struggles in 2012 could be traced back to their offensive line. Injuries ripped through their ranks, pushing inexperienced linemen into the lineup before many of them were probably ready. That experience, however, should lead to an improvement in 2013 and the Huskies do get four starters back. They need to gel quickly and solidify their pass protection as quarterback Keith Price is the key to everything UW wants to do on offense next season.

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7. UCLA Bruins

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

The Bruins will get four starters back, led by guard Xavier Sua’Filo who will be counted among the nation’s best in 2013. They were able to run block pretty well in 2012, opening up plenty of holes for departed running back Johnathan Franklin, but they gave up a ghastly 52 sacks. They will have an influx of young talent coming in with this year’s freshman class and they could push for playing time and give UCLA a boost in talent (though a dip in experience).

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6. Arizona State Sun Devils

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Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY Sports

The Sun Devils were solid up front in 2012 and will get back three quality starters for 2013. Leading the way will be their big studs at tackle, Evan Finkenberg and Jamil Douglas. The group will have to show some improvement in pass protection, however, after giving up 38 sacks last season, ranking No. 7 in the conference. Steady improvement from the front five this fall will be crucial to ASU’s hopes of punching through and winning the Pac 12 South.

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5. Oregon State Beavers

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Rick Scuteri - USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State had its fair share of struggles along the offensive line in 2012. They ranked No. 10 in the conference in rushing and couldn’t slow down anybody in their embarrassing loss in the Alamo Bowl. But they were working through some youth last season and return four quality starters this fall who project to be much improved in 2013. They are led by freshman All-American center Isaac Seumalo and will have the most experienced line in the conference in 2013, returning 90 total starts between them.

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4. Arizona Wildcats

Chris Putton
Rick Scuteri - USA TODAY Sports

The group that blocked for the leading rusher in the country last season welcomes back three starters. They don’t have much star power along the offensive front, but they are effective. Arizona had the No. 2 rushing attack in the Pac 12 last season and gave up just 18 sacks, the second fewest in the conference. How much of that was Matt Scott and his ability to avoid pressure, though, is hard to tell. If the two newcomers and step up and fill in admirably, the Wildcats should have another solid year on the line.

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3. USC Trojans

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

The Trojans will get four starters back for the 2013 season and they could become one of the strongest groups in the entire country, let alone the Pac 12. Last season, they led the conference in pass protection, allowing just 17 sacks. Their run blocking, on the other hand, was mediocre at best and must improve if USC hopes to bounce back in 2013.

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2. Oregon Ducks

Jennifer Stewart - USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks’ offensive line is critical to the success of the up-tempo running game. They lose a pair of excellent guards from 2012, but return three quality starters, including center Hroniss Grasu, who could finish this season as the best center in the conference. The Ducks also bring back tackles Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone to bookend the line giving Oregon three All-Conference quality linemen to run behind in 2013.

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1. Stanford Cardinal

Richard Mackson - USA TODAY Sports

Already one of the conference’s best units in 2012, Stanford welcomes back four starters in 2013 with 82 total starts between them. They will be led by All-American David Yankey who should enjoy a big year moving back down inside to his natural position of guard. Left tackle Andrus Peat has the talent to be an All-American as well and should hold down the blind side extremely well. Together, the Cardinal linemen should make up one of the best offensive lines in the country.