The Pac-12 should have a number of strong offensive lines in 2022. From a national standpoint, it’ll have some of the best units in college football.

I’ve already ranked the Pac-12’s likely starters at quarterback, the league’s running back rooms, and the league’s wideout groups. Now it’s time for the offensive lines.

(A note first: the returning snaps percentages you’ll see below do not include transfer numbers. For teams like UCLA and Arizona State that added key transfer offensive linemen who played big snaps at different schools, this deflates the number. But until we know how those new players will fit into the plan at their new school, it isn’t a 1:1 comparison.)

No. 12: Washington State

Returning snaps from 2021: 45.6% (11th Pac-12)

The Cougar offensive line has the second-lowest percentage of returning snaps in the conference. Of the seven players who saw at least 100 snaps, four of them are gone. That includes the two highest-rated offensive linemen on the team a season ago, Abraham Lucas and Liam Ryan. They were the team’s starting tackles last year and two pillars along the front, with 84 starts between them across four years. Cade Beresford transferred out of the program after he allowed only one pressure in 249 pass-blocking snaps. Wazzu wasn’t bad protecting the quarterback, but it struggled to open running lanes. Running back carries were stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage 23.5% of the time, a mark that was last in the Pac-12 and 125th nationally. The good news here is that under a new offensive regime, the line will be tasked with doing more of what it was good at and less of what it was bad at. This is a group lacking in possible all-conference selections. 

No. 11: Colorado

Returning snaps from 2021: 53.5% (8th)

The Buffaloes’ offensive line was arguably the worst pass-blocking unit at the Power Five level last season. With a 10.9% allowed sack rate, the Buffs ranked 124th among FBS teams and above only North Carolina at the P5 level. Quarterback Brendon Lewis earned his fair share of criticism, but a woeful passing attack had a lot to do with the protection Lewis received. To compound the issue, CU couldn’t run the ball when it needed to either. It posted a stuff rate over 20% and a yards-per-carry clip of 3.5. First-year offensive line coach Kyle DeVan has his work cut out for him with this group. Of the six players who saw at least 100 snaps as a blocker, three return. The four highest-graded linemen who played meaningful snaps last season all depart. Tommy Brown, the Alabama transfer, is potentially a key figure in this group. In limited action with the Tide, he looked promising. Colorado is hoping he can step in and start right away.

No. 10: Arizona

Returning snaps from 2021: 63.6% (5th)

Does a true freshman offensive lineman poised to start up front make for optimism about the individual or concern about the group? A 2022 signee and mid-year enrollee, Jonah Savaiinaea went through the spring period with a grip on one of the five starting spots. Arizona has experience coming back—with five of the seven players who saw at least 100 snaps as a blocker last season returning and more than 4,000 career snaps played amongst those five—but the offensive line hasn’t exactly been a consistent one. Arizona’s 7.5% allowed sack rate last season was ninth among Pac-12 teams, as was its 3.6 yards-per-carry average in the rushing department. In reality, this has been a multi-year issue along the offensive line for the Wildcats. But 2022 offers some encouraging signs. Brennan Carroll, the o-line coach and offensive coordinator, is in his second season with the group. Paiton Fears (1,765 snaps in the last three years) is the veteran presence along the line. There’s better depth. This group faces a crucial year. 

No. 9: Arizona State

Returning snaps from 2021: 40.4% (12th)

Six guys saw at least 100 snaps as a blocker. Four of them are gone. That includes NFL guys in Kellen Diesch and Dohnovan West. Diesch was far and away Arizona State’s best lineman last season. The Sun Devils hit the transfer portal hard for reinforcements, though. Chris Martinez comes over from San Diego State after playing more than 800 snaps a year ago. Des Holmes (Penn State), Joey Ramos (Iowa State), and Emmit Bohle (Northern State, D2) also join the team as transfers. It’ll be interesting to watch what path offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh takes with this group. LaDarius Henderson is a potential all-conference guard. Ben Scott appears to be moving from tackle to center. Holmes or Bohle could step in and start at either tackle spot. Per PFF, Arizona State’s offensive line had the second-best pass-blocking grade and the fourth-best run-blocking grade in the Pac-12 last season. With so much personnel change, it remains to be seen if that performance is repeatable. 

No. 8: Cal

Returning snaps from 2021: 50% (9th)

This will be a group led by Ben Coleman and Matthew Cindric in 2022. Coleman played just about every offensive snap last season after appearing only sparingly on offense the year prior. In 433 career snaps as a pass-blocker, he’s only allowed one sack and a total of 11 pressures (per PFF). Cindric provides a wealth of knowledge at center, with 1,890 snaps played over the last three seasons. Cal loses three of the seven linemen who played at least 100 snaps as a blocker last year, but adds Arizona State transfer Spencer Lovell and Montana State transfer TJ Session. The latter was a regular starter at right tackle for a Bobcats team that played for the FCS national championship. The Golden Bears have some talent, and posted top-10 marks nationally last season for line yards per carry, power success rate, and opportunity rate (Football Outsiders metrics defined here).

No. 7: UCLA

Returning snaps from 2021: 48.2 (10th)

The Bruins lose Sean Rhyan, Paul Grattan Jr., and Alec Anderson from a line that last season ranked among the best run-blocking units in the country. UCLA posted the ninth-lowest stuff rate and the 10th-best line YPC clip in college football. John Gaines II (1,449 snaps in the last three years), Duke Clemens (1,448), and Sam Marrazzo (782) have played a lot of football for UCLA, though, and they return to help anchor the line once again. UCLA also dipped into the portal to snag former Rutgers lineman Raiqwon O’Neal. He was an All-Big 10 Honorable Mention selection for Rutgers in 2021 and brings three years of starting experience. I like the options coach Chip Kelly has to work with on the interior, but depth at the tackle spots is precarious. UCLA seems to be banking on O’Neal being ready to go right away and Garrett DiGiorgio taking a big step in his move to right tackle. If things go wrong, there’s very little in terms of proven options behind those two. On top of that, the offensive line coach is new.

No. 6: Stanford

Returning snaps from 2021: 100% (1st)

Yup. Every offensive lineman who played a snap as a blocker last season is back. It’s almost unheard of in today’s game to return every single snap from a position group year-over-year. And it makes projecting the Cardinal a very tricky endeavor going into the new season. This offensive line was not good a season ago. Stanford had the worst rushing success rate in the Pac-12 and the seventh-worst in the country. Stanford runs were stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage at the eighth-highest rate in the country. The Cardinal’s allowed sack rate ranked 108th nationally. So why are they sixth? Continuity. It’s going to get better. It was almost so bad last year it has to. 

No. 5: Washington

Returning snaps from 2021: 80.5% (3rd)

The five and six spots go against the grain. I’ll acknowledge that upfront. UW was another bad offensive line in 2021. But, like Stanford, it returns a huge percentage of its snaps from last season and projects as a group that should improve quite a bit. Getting Jaxson Kirkland back for a sixth year was massive for first-year head coach Kalen DeBoer. He’s a first-team all-conference player. But it’s not just him; between Kirkland, Victor Curne, and Henry Bainivalu, Washington has almost 5,000 career snaps of experience at the two tackle spots and at right guard. UW will have a massive front line—something Jimmy Lake made a point of building. But where Lake failed, DeBoer and his new staff should pick up the pieces nicely. I expect this scheme to be markedly better on offense, and that should mean good things for an offensive line with a ton of veteran options.

No. 4: USC

Returning snaps from 2021: 71.1% (4th)

I have written time and time again the much-maligned USC offensive line isn’t as bad as social media will have you believe. Per PFF, USC’s line was the highest-graded pass-blocking unit in the Pac-12 last season and the second-highest-graded run-blocking unit.  Andrew Vorhees is a preseason All-American returning to play guard. Center Brett Neilon and right guard Justin Dedich were among the highest-graded Pac-12 linemen last season, per PFF. On passing downs, USC posted the 11th-best sack rate in the country. Per PFF, the allowed pressure rate was 16.7%, the 13th-best mark among the 64 Power Five programs and Notre Dame (average was 20.8%). How the trio of Bobby Haskins, Jonah Monheim, and Courtland Ford work in at the two tackle spots will be worth monitoring, but this figures to be one of the better interior lines you’ll find.

No. 3: Utah

Returning snaps from 2021: 60.6% (6th)

Over the last nine games of 2021, Utah allowed a total of four sacks. No team in the Pac-12 had a lower allowed sack rate than Utah (2.8%, preposterous) and no team in the Pac-12 had a better YPC clip than Utah (5.6 yards). In fact, Utah’s sack rate was the best among Power Five programs. Head coach Kyle Whittingham is entering his 18th season as the Utes’ head coach. Assistant coach Jim Harding is entering his ninth season as the Utes’ o-line coach. Few in the sport are able to match the Utes’ level of consistency year-over-year, and Harding has a penchant for developing top-flight offensive lines. Two from last year’s group are gone—Nick Ford and Bam Olaseni, both of them standouts—but Braeden Daniels and Sataoa Laumea return as all-conference players. 

No. 1B: Oregon State

Returning snaps from 2021: 60.3% (7th)

It feels like a cop-out to give you a tie at the top, but it’s hard to pick between these two lines. Whereas Oregon returns a huge chunk of its snaps, Oregon State returns guys who are already stars. Brandon Kipper, Marco Brewer, Joshua Gray, and Jake Levengood could all be all-conference players. Gray is maybe the best lineman in the conference right now. After grading out as the best run blocker and second-best offensive linemen overall in the league last year (per PFF), Brewer is maybe next in line for that mantle. Taliese Fauga has shown so much promise so early he’s expected to push Kipper inside to guard and take over at right tackle. This is one of the best offensive lines in college football. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

No. 1A: Oregon

Returning snaps from 2021: 85% (2nd)

The Ducks and Beavers averaged the same 5.3 yards per carry last season. They were both national top-25 teams in allowed sack rate. They were both top-10 in power success rate. Oregon had the lowest stuff rate in the country at 9.7%; no one else was under 11, but Oregon State was still top-five. They were the No. 1 and 2 teams in line yards per carry generated. Each of the Ducks’ projected starters on the offensive line has played at least 900 snaps in the last two seasons. Phil Steele has this Ducks’ group as the fifth-best offensive line in college football for 2022. No notes.