The best way to statistically measure your offensive line is with plays that happen behind the line. So just how did UB Fair this season? More than two sacks per game, more than seven tackles for loss allowed per game, and a rushing average of just over three yards per carry.
We all know that even when given time our QB's struggled so there is blame to go around but the core of our offenses problems this year were on the line. If you're looking for an easy way to avoid piling on the players you can look at depth and injury. UB lost Jeff Veinotte during spring ball and were so thing they converted a defensive lineman, Kenny Scott, to a guard.
As if all of that was not bad enough UB lost Matt Ostrowski during the UCF game in week 3. Josh Violanti was moved over to center to cover for that. Things got so bad that by the EMU game UB had just one true offensive lineman backing up the entire line. The rest of the depth chart was starters shifted over and Kenny Scott as a backup Guard.
The Injuries, and the new scheme that, come hell or high water, Coach Quinn was going to implement was just way too much for the unit to bear. The Line was already thin but when you factor in the loss of All MAC offensive lineman Peter Bittner it’s getting significantly thinner.
So did Coach Quinn get it done on the line?
The Need: Dire! Even before the Injury to Veinotte and Ostrowski everyone knew the line was going to be an issue. There is a deceivingly high number of offensive linemen on the roster but for the most part they are unproven commodities.
Quinn's staff went harder after offensive linemen than any other unit. They went there early and often. The Bulls had verbal commitments from three offensive linemen before summer camp began. Not stopping there Quinn added two linemen from Canada during the month of December.
John Kling: John Kling was a monster sighnee.
The Buffalo news named him a first team offensive performer in 2009 and all indication were that he was going to be a force in 2010. But a week two injury against Burgard put his senior season on crutches (and in a boot). Kling broke his early in the game, playing another down afterwards.
Because of the injury, and a transfer before his senior year, Kling flew under a lot of radars but he is a monster at 6'6 280 (or 300 depending on who you talk to).
He is also an accomplished wrestler which makes him pretty close to Jeff Quinn's Ideal recruit. As a three sport athlete Kling also won the league champion in shot put.
Jesse was one of the key components to LaSalle's best season in school history (9-2 record and a league title). As a senior his leadership on, and off the line was invaluable.
Most impressively Back did not allow one sack during his entire senior season, counting the playoffs.
Back was on Quinn’s Radar from the days of Cincinnati, once he set foot in Buffalo and saw the needs at line he looked the three sport athlete up.
"Jesse went to U.C.’s camp last summer. I guess he did really well and Jeff Quinn really liked him. So, when Coach Quinn got the job, you know, Jesse was one of the first guys he contacted." -- Lasalle High School Football Coach Tom Grippa
Robert Blodgett:: Blodgett is one of those guys you knew who was constantly too big for his age division in pee-wee football.
"When that happened, I kind of like cried. Before games, kids used to try and pump me up and get me ready because we had weigh-ins before every game. I used to run, try to sweat down just so I could play." -- Bob Blodgett
Those kind of things kill you as a kid but when he got into the prep level where weight is not a restriction his mass become a hot commodity.
With his size you would think that Blodgett falls into the football/wrestling camp but the Honeoye Falls-Lima product is the center for the basketball team. Blodgett Puts together size and agility that you don't usually see in a mid major recruit.
Gabriel Barbe: Because three linemen were not enough for this Class Quinn Decided to take a trip over the peace bridge and returned with Gabriel Barbe.
He came to Buffalo from CEGEP du Vieux in Montreal. During the 2009 and 2010 seasons Barbe earned first-team All-Star honors and aided his team to the Quebec Province Championship (2009).
Barbe was already joining fellow countryman Jeff Veinotte but Coach Quinn wanted one more Canuck to round out the set:
Guy overcame academic struggles in high school to qualify as the 2009 All-Canadian Offensive Line award. His challenges in the classroom had more do to his priorities than his abilities. The effort he put forth in correcting his course became one of many stepping stones towards his dream of playing professional football.
Guy has been playing for the Ottawa Sooners, a Canadian Junior Football team with a reputation for player development. Guy has tagged as a player to watch for future CFL drafts, even before he earned his NCAA ride.
Sooners recruiter Tristano Raponi met with football staffs at Buffalo, UConn, Virginia and several other camps so sell Guy as a potential NCAA player. Coach Quinn, in need of the size for his interior line offered Guy and shortly after Guy gave his verbal.
Both Canadian Linemen are already enrolled at the university and are currently undergoing Coach Duval's gauntlet
Offensive Line Grade: A
Just look at the table to your right, and you will see that four of our biggest eight linemen are freshman. Eventually this is going to be the biggest line UBNation has ever seen.
Having both of the Canadian linemen at UB is huge. They already enrolled which allows them to both bulk up under coach Duval and get some work in the system (They can also work on four down, 100 yard football)
Guy's experience at the Junior level should help, its like getting a freshman JUCO.
Blodgett is immense and athletic. He is not just 'a baseball player' but an all county center who was also Rochester's "Athlete of the week" for his performance on the hardwood.
Back seems to be a great leader and, in a rather competitive league, never once let a defender get a hand on his QB. For a team giving up nine plays a game behind the line this could be a very welcome change.
Kling has a lot of room to grow and while he may be about the 'smallest' of the incoming beef he Still measures in bigger than several linemen.
It's very likely that if Kling stayed healthy the whole year his team would have went deeper into the playoffs.
This is a situation where extreme need met an extreme class. None of these guys were lighting up scout or rivals but there is enough size, experience, and potential in this class to believe that in a season or two UB's offensive line woes will be a thing of the past.