Our position preview continues with the Virginia offensive line as we inch closer to Saturday night’s season opening game against William & Mary. The Hoos’ O-line is filled with senior leadership and should be a top strength for the team this fall. All five starters are returning starters on the line and four of the five are seniors - some might say it’s the best offensive line in the conference (people are talking!):
OK, time to rank our O-linemen… Today’s O-line rankings are brought to you by your team’s local BBQ or pizza joint. #NIL— ️♈️ (@ADavidHaleJoint) July 19, 2021
2. Virginia Tech
8. NC State
14. Georgia Tech
For sure, this group is stacked - it’s a crew of upperclassmen that really jumped in quality production last season and there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to improve as a unit in 2021 - particularly after having a full real summer season of preparation. Let’s take a look at the specific guys returning:
The line is anchored by its two tackles: Senior LT Ryan Nelson (6-6 315) and senior RT Ryan Swoboda (6-10 325). Nelson has started every game for the Hoos over the last three seasons and held down the left tackles spot on a 2020 line that ranked #1 in the ACC in tackles for loss allowed and #2 in the conference for sacks allowed per game. Nelson himself only allowed one sack all year - and was named to the 2021 ACC Academic Honor Roll. Ryan Swoboda is six feet ten inches tall.
(he also started every game last season at right tackle for the Hoos - and was ACC OL of the week after his practically flawless performance in the 42-32 win over Boston College)
At the center position, Olusegun Oluwatimi (6-3 310) is a senior who started every game of the 2020 season (this is a big theme on the depth chart for this group). Olu led the middle push of a 2020 line that ranked #3 across the power five conferences in rushing yards before contact (2.7 per attempt). He had a 99% success rate on pass protection opportunities and allowed only one sack on the year. Unsurprisingly, he’s been named to the Rimington Trophy watch list.
The two starting guards add to the consistency and talent in the unit. Senior Chris Glaser (6-4 305) has collected multiple preseason All ACC recognitions and started every 2020 game at right guard as a junior. He too only allowed one sack in the ACC season and added 20 pancake blocks in one-on-one situations. Junior Joe Bissinger (6-4 320) finished last season as the starter at left guard and appeared in every game for the 2020 Hoos.
While the starters are well-known to Virginia fans, the depth chart two deep does include a few freshmen who are new on grounds this fall. Logan Taylor (6-7 320) was a four star recruit for last year’s class and played at Episcopal in Alexandria, VA. Taylor is listed as Ryan Nelson’s back up at left guard and certainly has the potential to step into a starting position next season elsewhere on the line (or at LG if Bissinger were to move to another position on the line). Noah Josey (6-5 310) was the second-highest rated OL recruit in this year’s freshmen class and has already made the two deep as well - he’s listed as the backup at the right guard position.
It’s hard to have a great offense without a great offensive line - and this season’s UVA OL might be the best the team has had in more than a decade. If they stay healthy, Brennan Armstrong will have plenty of time to get the ball where he wants it and UVA’s rushing attack may take a big leap up in production. Tune in Saturday night to see how things start for the group this year!