The offensive line has long been a weak point for UConn football. But for the first time in a while, it looks like that may be starting to change since the Huskies are going with a youth movement along the line, starting two sophomores and a freshman.
Here’s how they breakdown.
Ryan Van Demark - Left Tackle
Van Demark was thrown in as a true freshman at right tackle and was as solid as he could be in the situation. He switched to left tackle and has bulked up over the offseason. At the Coaches’ Roadshow back in June, Edsall spoke highly of Van Demark.
“We threw him in after three games because he was the best guy we had, most athletic,” the coach said. “He’s up to 290 pounds so he’s got that one-two; he’s got that drive you see him out there in front of the screens and then moving Matt [Peart] over to the right side helped him.”
As long as Van Demark can continue improving, the Huskies’ blindside should be protected for the foreseeable future.
Cam DeGeorge - Left Guard
Like Van Demark, DeGeorge saw his first action at right guard last season before moving to left guard over the offseason. Despite playing in the interior, DeGeorge has great size at 6-foot-6, 290 pounds. Between him and the 6-foot-7 Van Demark, the left side of the line should be solid if only because the two of them occupy so much space.
Edsall said that the biggest thing with DeGeorge was getting him “out of his shell” and being more aggressive in the trenches. If he and Van Demark both make jumps from their freshman seasons, it will go a long way to improving the Huskies’ offensive line.
Ryan Crozier - Center
Crozier is another player that should stabilize the line. He missed most of last season with an injury but returns for his final season in Storrs. Edsall said Crozier is expected to be a critical part of the offense.
“He’s a really smart guy and with what we’re doing offensively, we’re going to need a smart guy to understand where the Mike [Linebacker] is and on protections,” Edsall said.
Health is the biggest question mark with Crozier since he’s only made it through one season without an injury.
Christian Haynes - Right Guard
Edsall named Haynes the starter week this past week after beating out redshirt junior Bryan Cespedes. A true freshman, Haynes was a two-star prospect out of Bowie, Maryland and chose the Huskies over Air Force, Buffalo and FIU.
Matt Peart - Right Tackle
The veteran of the offensive line, Peart spent his first two seasons at left tackle before making the switch this past season. According to Pro Football Focus, Peart is UConn’s highest-rated returning player.
As just a redshirt junior, Edsall thinks both he and Van Demark have high ceilings.
“Those are two really good tackles,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve had two tackles that can be as good as those two guys.”
Redshirt freshman James Tunstall is the backup to Peart at right tackle while Cespedes is the second right guard on the depth chart. Stanley Hubbard III will take over snapping duties if Crozier goes down once again with Nino Leone the backup at left guard. Noel Brouse, who transitioned to the offensive line from defense this offseason, is the secondary option at left tackle.
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