Will simply flipping the tackles make each more effective?
Last season, Tech’s struggles up front were greatest on the edge where tackles Monroe Mills and Caleb Rogers were far from all-conference performers. Now, the coaching staff has decided to flip those two players hoping that change will make each more effective.
Mills, the former Oklahoma State transfer who was a first-time starter at the college level last year, is currently slated to take over at left tackle after making 10 starts at right tackle last fall. The junior was a bit of a surprise a year ago grading out as one of the team’s best linemen, though that was a low bar to clear.
Meanwhile, Rogers struggled mightily at left tackle last season. Often displaying poor footwork and technique when trying to block the conference’s best pass rushers, there’s no way to deny that he was a liability for most of the season. Now, he’s been bumped over to right tackle in hopes that he can make strides while playing a new position.
It is fair to believe that Tech put forth significant effort in trying to add at least one new starting tackle through the portal this offseason but that never materialized. So now, the fate of the line will depend on the flip of Mills and Rogers. But does simply moving the lawn furniture around make for a viable solution?
On one hand, it could be argued that putting the better player (Mills) at the more important position (left tackle) might improve the line. Also, asking Rogers to no longer deal with the elite pass rushers in the game might help him be more effective.
However, defenses will know which tackle struggles the most and design their pass-rush schemes to isolate and exploit Rogers if he shows more weakness this fall. What’s more, Mills has never played left tackle at the college position so we have no reason to simply assume that he will be the answer at left tackle.
Of course, players are allowed to improve over the offseason. That’s the task of O-line coach Stephen Hamby and his graduate assistants; to chisel away at the flaws of Mills and Rogers and refine them into tackles who will be able to man to edges of the line for a team that expects to compete for a conference crown. Whether or not that endeavor is successful will be fascinating to watch and could set the tone for the 2023 offense.