INSIDE TULSA FOOTBALL: THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Aug 23, 2013
TULSA, Okla. - Despite losing three starters to graduation, including two first-team all-conference tackles, the Tulsa offensive line has shaped up well during preseason camp with a lot of good competition.
"It's a hard-working group. I think they're fairly talented. We're young in a few spots and looking to replace three starters from last year. We have a lot of competition going on in there, and I think we'll field a good bunch," said Offensive Line Coach Denver Johnson.
The center position has been a big key to how the remainder of the starting offensive front shapes up.
"We're pretty close to finalizing the starting spots," Head Coach Bill Blankenship said following Thursday's practice session. "I think we have a pretty good idea of what we're trying to do.
"I think the development of Davis Walton at tackle has made some of the other decisions on the offensive line a little better. Gabe (Moyer) has been good at center and we like that. We like being able to leave Stetson (Burnett) at guard if Davis is playing well, so that solidifies the right side," said Blankenship. "The nice thing is, and we keep saying it, but it really is good when Coach (Denver Johnson) has three or four other pieces that he can just kind of interchange there if we need to."
Senior Gabe Moyer has battled red-shirt freshman Dylan Foxworth and sophomore Bill LaFortune. It appears that Moyer will start the season at center, while Foxworth will be in a back-up role with Billy Lafortune backing up at guard and center.
With Moyer getting the nod at center, senior Stetson Burnett will start at right guard and be flanked by junior Davis Walton. Burnett is a three-year starter having started 32 career games, while Walton red-shirted last season after transferring from NEO A&M.
On the left side, junior Jake Alexander is the starting guard, while sophomore Garrett Stafford holds down the left tackle spot. Alexander started 13 of 14 games last year, while Stafford filled in for an injured Brian DeShane and started the final two games last season, against UCF in the C-USA Championship Game and Iowa State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Game.
Burnett and Alexander have both been picked as preseason all-Conference USA selections by the league's coaches.
Coach Johnson has been pleased with the second unit as well. Along with Foxworth and Lafortune, sophomore Garrett Gladd and red-shirt freshmen Blake Belcher and Chris Wallace have shown solid ability during preseason camp. The only thing lacking with this talented group is experience. Junior Alec Henry also gives the Hurricane more experience at the guard spot.
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