The battle for the starting quarterback job might be Doc Holliday’s most pressing concern, but his biggest area that needs to develop quickly is the offensive line. The front five was one of many question marks headed into spring practice in April. There were signs of improvement but following the Green/White game it was obvious there was still a sizable gap between the improvements made during the spring and the improvements still needed.
“We are not anywhere near where we need to be,” says Offensive Coordinator and O-line Coach Bill Legg. “There are major question marks that need to be settled.”
Among those question marks is figuring out exactly who the starting front five will be. Returning starters Ryan Tillman and C.J. Wood will anchor the unit. Otherwise Legg is looking for players to step up and show they can get the job done.
Scott Garrett (left guard), Chris Jasperse (center) and Corey Tenney (right tackle)filled out the starting line during the spring game while Jordan Jeffries, Grady Kerry, Chris Bowers, David Rumley and Josh Lovell formed the second string line.
Legg explains developing linemen is a different beast than developing skill position players. Often a freshman receiver or running back who possesses speed can have an immediate impact. However, with linemen their physical development is much more of an issue.
“You’ve got an 18-year-old kid playing against a 23-year-old man. That physical difference is significant,” asserts Legg. “That’s where this summer we have to build on what we gained.”
That’s where the dog days of summer will have the most impact as the line spends day after day in the weight room working to get stronger, developing technique and building up stamina. However, there will be much more work to do once practice begins on August 8th if Holliday and Legg hope to unleash an offense that was scaled back in the spring because of the youthfulness on the line and quarterbacks.
“We’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go,” says Legg.
Just like the old Jerry Reed song says, the offensive line “has a long way to go and short time to get there.”