To be the best you have to beat the best. At least, that’s what coaches always say and there is truth to that old coaching cliche. So, can you become the best by practicing against the best everyday?
Thundering Herd Head Coach Doc Holliday hopes so when it comes to his offensive line. For senior tackle Ryan Tillman, there’s probably nobody better in C-USA rushing off the edge than than the man he lines up against everyday in practice, Vinny Curry.
“He’s one of the top guys in the country. It’s good for me that I can go up against a guy like that everyday,” says Tillman.
That practice will come in handy as Tillman and the rest of the O-Line will have to deal with speedy pass rushers such as WVU’s Bruce Irvin in the season opener.
“Our D-Line is really good and it helps our o-line a lot,” says redshirt freshman center Chris Jasperse. “Practice will be hard and that will make the games easy.”
The line was one of the area’s of concern for The Herd headed into preseason camp, needing to replace three of the front five and its troubles have been noticed in the media.
“We try not to pay attention to that and just come out here and do what we’re supposed to do,” says Tillman.
So far Holliday has liked what he has seen from the group up front through the first week of practice. Holliday was less than pleased with the production for the line last season, going as far as to say he didn’t like anything about that group. Holliday said the 2010 group didn’t like playing football and they weren’t tough. Now, Holliday says that has changed.
“They’re young and talented. I keep saying it over and over they like to play and you can see it just by the way they practice,” boasted Holliday.
Holliday and offensive coordinator/o-line coach Bill Legg know the line needs to develop and mature quickly. Marshall’s quarterback battle is well documented and whoever is named starter for September 4th will either have little or no college experience. They will need time in the pocket to make the proper reads whether running the option for looking for an open reciever.
The Herd is deep in the backfield with several dynamic running backs, but they will be of little value if the line can’t open holes for them to run through. Ryan Tillman believes ultimately the line will be a strong point for this team.
“We’re sticking to the plan and come out here each day and work hard and improve.”