Back OAYP: 2019 Sun Belt Offensive Line Rankings

Back To Sun Belt

OAYP: 2019 Sun Belt Offensive Line Rankings

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin.  Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page

The new OAYP advanced metric ranks the Sun Belt's offensive lines.

In case you missed it, I’ve already released the marginal OAYP rankings for all the qualifying Sun Belt skill players. Those, along with a more comprehensive explanation (in the QB rankings), can be found here:

QB | RB | WR | TE

Today, we’re diving into the offensive linemen. Now, simply because of the sheer volume of qualifying returnees, I won’t list all 30+ individuals, rather the projected offensive line totals for each school. Those obviously include returning starters, but also factor in projections for new starters and team pedigree.

However, before we get to that, let’s tier some of the SBC’s blockers, just like we did with the skill players, into superstars (marginal OAYP >1.0) and second tier (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1.0) players. I’ll also list the top five at each position above the team projections.

*marginal OAYP in parentheses*

Superstars

-Robert Hunt, T, Louisiana (2.52)
-Kevin Dotson, G, Louisiana (2.28)
-Noah Hannon, C, App State (1.43)
-Victor Johnson, T, App State (1.32)
-Hunter Atkinson, T, Georgia State (1.05)

It should come as no surprise that the top four Sun Belt offensive linemen come from the league’s two best offensive lines. Nor should it be much of a shock that those two schools happen to be the league’s two reigning division champs. Football, after all, is a game still won in the trenches.

Robert Hunt and Kevin Dotson are, in some order, the best two blockers in the Sun Belt. OAYP gives Hunt the edge, but that’s not the end-all-be-all. Hunt does have the advantage of playing tackle, which is more valuable, but one could make a strong argument that Dotson is better, regardless of positional value. Plus, their marginal scores are calculated differently since each is relative to their respective positions. The tackle group this year is more top heavy, but the guard spot is arguably a little deeper. In any case, these two getting to play next one another is downright unfair. According to PFF, Hunt allowed only one sack and one QB hit in the regular season last year, and graded out as the league’s single best pass blocker. Dotson, meanwhile, gave up just four pressures and graded out as the best run blocking guard in the conference.

Of course, App State has a terrific twosome of its own, up front. Noah Hannon has now started 26 consecutive games at center, while Vic Johnson has started all but one contest at right tackle since he first took the field as a redshirt freshman in 2016. Those two helped lead the Mountaineers to a top 25 national ranking in both rushing yards per game and fewest sacks allowed for the fifth straight year.

As a whole, Georgia State’s offensive line was not great last year, but it was real studs and duds situation. Hunter Atkinson and Shamarious Gilmore were two of the best in the conference at their positions. Curiously, those two are the lone returning starters on the line. Atkinson earned third team All-Sun Belt honors for his efforts, while Gilmore allowed just seven pressures on more snaps than all but one other guard in the league. Even though there will be three new starters on Georgia State’s 2019 offensive line, it’s safe to expect this group to be much improved, if for no other reason than these two.

Second Tier

-Shamarious Gilmore, G, Georgia State (0.67)
-TJ Fiailoa, G, ULM (0.63)
-Ryan Neuzil, G, App State (0.53)
-Cole Prudhomme, C, Louisiana (0.53)

ULM and Louisiana both return all five starters from their 2018, both of which were already solid. Fialoa highlights a Warhawk front that finished in the national top ten in line yards per carry and the top 25 in stuff rate. The unit lacks the star power that Louisiana boasts, but fills out solidly across the board with few discernible weaknesses. Then, for as good as the Ragin Cajun’s top two guys are, it really has to be considered a big three, as the conference’s second best returning center, Cole Prudhomme, joins Dotson and Hunt to comprise an O-Line that a lot of power five teams would happily trade for their own. The same could be said for Ryan Neuzil as part of App State’s big three, as well.

Top Five Tackles

1. Robert Hunt, Louisiana (2.52)
2. Victor Johnson, App State (1.32)
3. Hunter Atkinson, Georgia State (1.05)
4. Eastwood Thomas, ULM (0.49)
5. Trace Ellison, ULM (-0.07)

Top Five Guards

1. Kevin Dotson, Louisiana (2.28)
2. Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State (0.67)
3. TJ Fiailoa, ULM (0.63)
4. Ryan Neuzil, App State (0.53)
5. Kirk Kelley, Troy (0.21)

Top Five Centers

1. Noah Hannon, App State (1.43)
2. Cole Prudhomme, Louisiana (0.53)
3. Aaron Brewer, Texas State (0.43)
4. Bobby Reynolds, ULM (-0.03)
5. Jacob Still, Arkansas State (-0.23)

2019 Projected Marginal OAYP ACC Offensive Line Rankings

1. Louisiana (5.94)
2. App State (3.82)
3. ULM (2.61)
4. Georgia State (0.44)
5. Arkansas State (-0.07)
6. Troy (-1.22)
7. Georgia Southern (-1.97)
8. Texas State (-2.96)
9. South Alabama (-3.02)
10. Coastal Carolina (-3.58)

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP