The SEC may be known more for its punishing defense, but the offensive line play over the last several years has been excellent. Simply put, this is a line of scrimmage league, and close, physical games are won in the trenches. Just look at Alabama and Texas A&M last season, and the dominance of both teams’ offensive lines that help propel each team’s offense.
Having an offensive tackle tandem is a massive advantage for both run and pass blocking and will ultimately help lead to more consistency and wins.
Here are four known duos that highlight the leagues’ tackle tandems:
1. Antonio Richardson and Ja’Wuan James, Tennessee
The Skinny: Tennessee led the SEC in the fewest sacks allowed in 2012, thanks in part to talented tackle tandem Tiny Richardson and Ja’Wuan James. Say what you want about Tennessee’s depleted roster, but the O-line play should be strong. This unit features four NFL-caliber O-linemen, and at least Butch Jones can feel strong about one aspect of his offense in 2013. Richardson is already looking forward to facing Jadeveon Clowney.
2. Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
The Skinny: Jake Matthews, who is arguably the best tackle in the country, slides over from right to left, while guard Cedric Ogbuehi slides out to replace Matthews. The Aggies’ left tackle in back-to-back years features two of the best ever in school history in Luke Joeckel and, now, Matthews. But I don’t think they lose much replacing Matthews at right tackle with Cedric Ogbuehi, who will have just as bright of an NFL future as either Matthews or Joeckel. Will Johnny Manziel’s jersey get dirty in 2013?
3. John Theus and Kenarious Gates, Georgia
The Skinny: Rarely do true freshmen step in and make an impact at tackle. But that’s exactly what John Theus did last season. Although coaches are trying to motivate him to push harder, as he is listed as second-teamer now, he’ll ultimately win the job and shine again. Opposite Theus is one of the most underrated linemen in the league in Kenarious Gates. From a line that returns five starters, Georgia’s offense will be once again very explosive.
4. Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell, South Carolina
The Skinny: Brandon Shell is a future NFL-bound tackle, while junior Corey Robinson returns at left tackle and is a massive human being, listed at 6-8, 341 pounds. Although the totality of this group had some questions at times last season, an added year of experience should do this position unit wonders. The entire O-line returns four starters, and the new-look running game led by Mike Davis stands to take a step forward. Both tackles make it tough for any defensive end to get around them.
Other teams feature big-time tackles like Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio and Vanderbilt’s Wesley Johnson, but both teams are looking for a complement.
Auburn’s tandem of Greg Robinson and Patrick Miller could grow into two of the best, but we need more sample size and time. LSU returns right tackle Vadal Alexander, but left guard La’El Collins moves from guard to tackle. Ole Miss’ tandem of Emmanuel McCray and Pierce Burton could also prove to be very good in 2013.
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