Some of the returnees that have logged significant mintutes are Alex Kupper, Jake Smith, John Miller, Jamon Brown and center Mario Benavidez. These guys are all the likely starters coming into the 2012 season with Smith and Brown on the right side of Benavidez, then Kupper and Miller on the left side. The only starter the Cards lost was senior Ryan Kessling. Alex Kupper is coming off an MCL sprain suffered in the annual Red-White Spring Game. His recovery should be nearing completion and he likely will be back to 100% by seasons kickoff.
The Cards have a host of true freshman, redshirt freshman and sophomores on the roster for the upcoming season. Nacho Garcia, Sid Anvoots, Joe Manley, TC Klusman and DeAndre Herron (not yet on campus) are all true freshman that will likely all get redshirts this season to marinate within the program and spend most of their time in the weight room and film room preparing for the game at the collegiate level. The redshirt freshman and sophomores will carry the bulk of the back-up duties for the starting unit. Ryan Mack, Chris Acosta, Kamran Joyer and Aaron Epps should back up mostly at Line and Tackle while Mike Romano backs up at the center position.
Player(s) To Watch
There are some interesting injury related story lines with this unit that I want to keep an eye on. The most important is whether or not Benavidez can stay healthy after missing a good chunk of the 2011 season. There is no question that he is the anchor of this unit and he greases the wheel. If he should remain healthy he will be a huge asset for the Cards and likely find himself playing on Sundays. I will also watch closely for Kupper and Mack to fully recover from their Spring Game injuries. Neither was too serious, but these guys will be counted on to play major roles.
This unit started the 2011 season as the largest question mark. They encountered some hurdles and bumps and bruises along the way, but finished strong and much further ahead than anyone could have predicted. If these guys can remain healthy and continue to build on where they left off at the end of the 2011 season, they could be one of the toughest groups of guys on the field. With the stable of running back Louisville has accompanied by Teddy Bridgewater’s mobility, they will be counted on to be a bruit force against anything the opposing defenses throw at them. Under the leadership of position coach Dave Borbely they will continue on their improvements from last season and I suspect they will be one of the more dominant offensive lines in the Big East.