High-chemistry offensive line ensures stability up front
Before he became the starting center in week three, junior offensive lineman Bryce Redman needed a team manager to follow him around on the sidelines.
Redman, one of the team’s six captains, played both tight end and offensive line before settling in at center, making eight starts last season. Because of number requirements for different positions, he had to switch form-fitting jerseys each time he entered the game as a tight end, which became a pain for Redman.
“To not have to worry about the whole jersey situation and just concentrate on one position is a good thing,” Redman said.
Though the other members of the offensive line haven’t needed a manager to monitor their jersey number, the starters have displayed their versatility, which the squad proved this offseason. After an injury to senior guard Ty Cloud, who was sidelined early during fall camp due to head and leg injuries, his teammates have shuffled around to fill the void. Cloud may play, but has been ruled out as a starter this week.
Junior left tackle Rowdy Harper will move to guard until Cloud returns, while senior Ralph Oragwu will move to Harper’s position at left tackle. Sophomore Zach Johnson, who emerged as a player who can contribute in Cloud’s absence, will start at right tackle.
“When you look at their resumés, if you will, we have five offensive linemen that have all started for us in the past… There’s a number of ways to win football games,” said head coach Tony Levine. “One of them, I believe, is to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.”
The veteran group has grown to the point where it can communicate without speaking.
“With all of the offensive linemen, we’ve been together since I’ve been here – I know (Forsch, Cloud and Harper) and I have. And that’s huge as far as communication goes,” Redman said. “You kind of get to know how a person is going to act in play after a while. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything, and it works out.”
The close-knit group built that relationship through long hours in the weight room and hours off the field spending time together in their personal lives. Redman is the godfather to Harper’s son, Jax, and was at the hospital when he was born.
The offensive line helped the Cougars rush for five 100-yard rushing games and gave up 18 sacks last season. The group hopes to build on those numbers.
Their experience and talent should allow it to become one of the Cougars’ strongest position groups.