Interior Linemen Could Be Key In 2008

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Zak Stair is one of the linemen up for increased playing time in 2008.

Most of the talk surrounding Virginia’s spring camp has been on whether Peter Lalich can step in and fill the shoes of quarterback Jameel Sewell , who left the team in January for academic reasons. But a more critical issue might be the trio of interior blockers that will be part of the offensive line charged with protecting Virginia’s quarterbacks in 2008.

With the return of all-conference candidates Will Barker and Eugene Monroe at the tackle spots, the Virginia offensive line looks pretty strong on the edge. The question this season is on the interior where the Cavaliers must replace center Jordy Lipsey and guards Branden Albert and Ian-Yates Cunningham .

According to Coach Al Groh these are not uncharted waters for the Hoos.

“Last year we had five guys returning from the previous season and this year we’ve only got two. So this year its 40% of the line coming back so clearly it’s a whole different circumstance there,” Groh said. “We went through a start up period with that group during the ’06 season so we’re hoping to be able to be in a little bit better shape starting out with the ’08 line than we were with the ’06 line.”

The 2008 edition of the Cavalier front five will be comprised of three players with a total of seven collegiate starts. Zak Stair , B.J. Cabbell , Patrick Slebonick , and Jack Shields are the likely front runners for a unit that represents a dramatic makeover from the offensive line that paved the way for running backs Cedric Peerman