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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Football

Offensive line looks to rebuild after losing coach, 4 from deep unit


The Cougars have to add starters and replenish their depth after losing four players who had starting experience. | File photo/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars add starters and replenish their depth after losing four players who had starting experience.  |  File photo/The Daily Cougar

With the Cougars nearing their last practice before their Friday spring game, the offensive line has been working to gain chemistry after an offseason full of change.

UH’s offensive line has to replace four players and position coach Glen Elarbee. New offensive line coach Gordy Shaw and his squad are hoping to make an immediate impact in the Cougars’ running game.

“I think the run game this spring has been a big thing. When we bring the run game in a little more, it helps our pass game and gives (starting quarterback) John (O’Korn) a little more time to do his thing back there, throwing the ball,” said senior offensive lineman Rowdy Harper.

The offensive linemen said they have quickly come to respect their new coach, who has come in eager to learn and teach at the same time. UH’s no-huddle offense has been a learning process for Shaw even after 34 years of coaching, but the linemen have been receptive to what he’s implementing into practice.

“(He’s) putting in a bunch of new kinds of schemes, and we really like it, and I think he’s really coaching us in a way a lot of the guys really enjoy,” Harper said.

Although UH lost former linemen DeAnthony Sims, Kevin Forsch, Ralph Orwagwu and Ty Cloud, it is optimistic about the opportunity to build new chemistry with some key returners and new faces. Shaw said that, with many inexperienced players on the offensive line, patience is key.

The returning starters — including Harper, senior center Bryce Redman and junior offensive lineman Zach Johnson, who emerged last season as a dependable option when the Cougars struggled through injuries — will be expected to mesh with a group of 10 competing to fill the remaining two spots.

But UH is adding more competition in May. Hawaii junior right guard Ben Dew has transferred and will join the team during the summer.

Shaw said he is aware of the inconsistency it may bring — which they hope to filter out — but wants the linemen to focus on playing within themselves and to move on from previous mistakes in a play.

“That’s the wonderful thing about football is that it teaches you, ‘If you get knocked down, get back up and go again,’” Shaw said.

The Cougars compete hard in practice every day and know the more they play together, the easier it is to pick things up, Harper said.

“(Shaw’s) an easy guy to buy into, and you can tell that he knows what he’s talking about,” Harper said. “He really enjoys what he does and is very knowledgeable.”

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