HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — For the most part they are a nameless unit, which if it does its job, won’t be mentioned in the postgame recap.
That’s the life of an offensive lineman. Chances are if names such as Chris Jasperse, Gage Niemeyer, Alex Schooler or Garrett Scott are being talked about the line is not getting the job done. If it is, they’ll rarely be mentioned, yielding to the likes of Rakeem Cato, Steward Butler and Tommy Shuler.
And that’s just fine with the guys up front. Coach Doc Holliday preaches a team-first mentality and that attitude is best exemplified along the line where five individuals must function as a single unit for Marshall’s offense to be successful.
“Our No. 1 objective is to communicate and all be on the same page,” said offensive line coach Alex Mirabal. “We’re either all going to be right together or wrong together. After that is technique and physicality.”
Holliday has predicted the offensive line will be the strength of The Herd’s offense this fall. That’s high praise when your quarterback is the reigning conference MVP.
“We got a lot stronger, all of our numbers went up and even got faster,” said center Chris Jasperse.
Jasperse, who bench presses 430 pounds, knows all that hard work in the offseason will be wasted if the line can’t improve in dictating the tempo of the game—and that means being able to run the ball when they want.
“We just got to perfect our run game,” asserts Jasperse. “That’s huge for us. A lot of people think we can’t run the ball.”
Marshall was fourth in C-USA in rushing offense in 2012, averaging 169.2 yards per game. The Herd wants to improve upon that average this season but it is not as simple as just coming to the line of scrimmage and handing the ball off to Butler or Kevin Grooms.
“We just take what the defense gives us. We have a lot of run/pass combos. Every play we can either run or pass the ball. Cato’s going to either throw or hand it off depending on what the defense wants to do,” Jasperse said.
Holliday likes the offensive line this year. It’s the first time since he took over as head coach in which this has been the case. Holliday will really like this unit if it can dominate in 2013.