Montana's offensive line has the potential to be an outstanding group in 2012
Aug. 24, 2012
(Part 3 of 3 parts on the 2012 Griz offense + Updated "Active" Numerical Roster PDF)
Where's the beef? That's a line from and old commercial used by a well-know restaurant chain, and it could also be used on The University of Montana Grizzlies' 2012 offensive line.
Montana's projected starters on the O-Line this season average 6-5 ½, 306 pounds. It is a young group with only one senior starter, along with three juniors, and a sophomore.
Those five players expected to get the starting nod on Sept. 1 against South Dakota include center Kjelby Oiland (6-4, 195, Jr., 1V, from Spokane, Wash.), guards Jake Hendrickson (6-3 ½, 300, Sr., 1V, from Gilbert, Ariz.) and William Poehls (6-8, 320, Jr., 2V, from Chandler, Ariz.), and tackles Trevor Poole (6-5, 290, So., 1V, Spokane, Wash.) and Danny Kistler (6-8, 325).
The Griz did lose some key starters from a year ago in guard Chuck Burton, tackler Jon Opperud, and center Stephen Sabin, but offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach and offensive line coach Scott Gragg feel good about that starting five as well as some other players who add good depth to that area.
"That's a good looking group of players, and Kjelby (started at center last season) and Danny (started at left guard last year) have played different positions before who have been asked to do something different this year and that is an adjustment they've made very well," Rosenbach said.
"Poehls is a big body who you can run behind, and Jake Hendrickson has done a nice job in fall camp stepping up and getting the job done," Rosenbach said. "We are excited about all of those guys right now at this point."
One of the key back-ups on the O-Line is promising redshirt freshman John Schmaing (6-7, 285, from Billings' Senior HS), who plays both left and right tackle.
The number two players at guard are junior Jordan Hines (6-4, 295, SQ, from Phoenix, Ariz.) on the left side, and redshirt freshman Samson Kaleikini (6-5, 280, from Kapolei, Hawaii). Jordan's twin brother, Logan Hines (6-4, 291, SQ) is the back-up at center.
"I think we've got some good depth and experience," said Gragg, a three-year starter for the Griz and two-time All-American (1993 and 1994). "Trevor played probably a third of the reps last year and did a great job for us. Danny Kistler did not miss a rep, and Kjelby and Poehls split time last year. So we've got great depth at those two positions. Really the new guy is our line senior starter, Jake Hendrickson, who had a really good fall and has really stepped it up.
"Now we have some guys who look to be like the Kjelbys, and the Poehls, and the Pooles of last year, and Schmaing will be our first guy to go in at tackle, and he'll see a bunch of reps," Gragg said. "Samson Kaleikini has had a great fall and he will see a considerable amount of playing time. The two Hines twins are both doing a great job. We've got probably the best depth we've had since I've been here the last three years.
"Fortunately it looks like we won't have to play any of our young guys and they will get another year under their belts," Gragg continued. "It's a really good recruiting class, but they're not quite ready. If we got in a pinch we could play one of those young guys and they'd play really well. It'd be great to have four or five guys play together for three or four years and they could be a really special group."
"Samson has been impressive in fall camp," Rosenbach said. "He's really taken to Coach Gragg's coaching, and he's getting a lot of reps and filling in there with the ones sometimes, and so is Schmaing. Both of those guys can run and can move well on the edges."
COACH ROSENBACH'S COMMENTS ON THE OVERALL OFFENSE: "I think we might be in a similar boat that this team was in last year at this time. Jordy (quarterback Jordan Johnson) was kind of unproven and hadn't had a lot of reps, and (redshirt freshman QB) Trent (McKinney) hasn't been out on the field in a game yet. We're going to find out when we turn the lights on and then we'll see what happens. There are going to be some things that he (McKinney) has to adjust to - but we're just going to just play.
ROSENBACH ON POSSIBLE USING TWO QUARTERBACKS IN A GAME: "I think if the opportunity arises in a game you have to insert a guy probably just to get him some experience there, because we really don't have a lot of experience other than Shay, who has just had a few snaps in a cleanup role. As far as the two-quarterback system, I probably don't foresee that being a set game plan right now."
UP NEXT: A look at the 2012 Griz special teams.
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