Just how good was last year’s offensive line?
They cleared their young quarterback’s path to a Heisman Trophy.
They led the Aggies to 558 yards of offense per game, which surpassed the old school record by 68 yards.
Left tackle Luke Joeckel was the second overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.
That’s how good.
“We just played well together,” rising junior and tackle-to-be Cedric Ogbuehi said. “Pat Lewis at center was a great leader, he got us lined up and it really started with Pat. We were just comfortable. We all had experience, and knew we could do it.”
But Pat Lewis has moved on. How significant is that loss? After the Cotton Bowl in January, Johnny Manziel stated that “it was Pat that ran this offense, not me.”
Mike Matthews is set to step in. Replacing Lewis is no easy task, but the new center received a ringing endorsement from Ogbuehi.
“That newcomer is a Matthews, enough said. He’s a born leader, born to play football. He’s strong and could be better than Pat in the future, even this year who knows. I think we’re very comfortable with Mike.”
Ogbuehi himself is transitioning. He’ll move to the right tackle spot vacated by Mike’s older brother, Jake, who will take Joeckel’s spot at left tackle.
“I think I did well (in the spring), but I still could get better,” the Allen, Texas product states. “It’s all about confidence, and I have a lot of confidence.”
Some wonder if the Aggie offense will transition a bit with last year’s coordinator, Kliff Kingsbury, taking the head coaching job at Texas Tech. Running backs coach Clarence McKInney now takes over, and Ogbuehi doesn’t anticipate much change.
Another question is with a stable of studs in the backfield, and four of the top six pass catchers from a season ago no longer on the roster, will McKinney dial up more run plays? Ogbuehi boldly says…not so fast.
“Our receivers this year might be better than last year. We have a lot of guys coming in. They seem special.”
McKinney called the plays in the Cotton Bowl after Kingsbury’s departure, and a wrinkle of the option game showed up. But the Aggies actually threw the ball a higher percentage of times that night than they did during the season. Sometimes, though, play selection doesn’t mean much when Johnny Manziel decides to do his thing.
“I feel more comfortable knowing that if I mess up he’s got my back,” Ogbuehi says. “Last year there were times where we might have messed up, but he just juked out of it.”
You’ll notice Ogbuehi uses the word comfortable quite often. This offense is changing coordinators, while saying goodbye to the best tackle in college football (Joeckel) and one of its best receivers (Ryan Swope).
But, Cedric Ogbuehi isn’t too concerned.
He feels everyone will settle in quite nicely.