To Serve and Protect
As the seconds continue to tick away, we will continue our preview of the various position groups as Kickoff 2011 approaches. Today, a quick glance at the offensive line. A coach once said to me, “In an offensive line, it’s got to be a unit. You can’t have five pennies, it has to be a nickle.” My money is on the Bobcats being improved up front.
You want an excellent football team? Make sure your offensive line play is top shelf. True story - the Bobcats have lit up scoreboards when the o-line has been above solid. The Bobcats obviously have an excellent starting point in three-time, All-SLC, honoree DJ Hall (35 career starts). There are a lot of good players who wouldn’t have stepped on the field with the health situation that DJ had in ‘10. My friends, DJ Hall was in the huddle! DJ understands fire, footwork and leverage as well as any Bobcat offensive lineman who I’ve seen. You can go to the BobCast from Media Day to hear from the Bobcat senior.
The Bobcats have a solid, veteran foundation when you also combine the likes of Steven Kenney (19 career starts), Mike Chambers (11 career starts), and Jon Vernon. However, as 2010 proved, depth is key and something the Bobcats are working to identify in Fall camp. Converted tight end Devin Baker, Thad Watkins, along with a few others, appear to be progressing nicely to me. Of course, the proof will be when the pads and tortillas start flying in Lubbock on September 3rd.
Veteran Coach, Dennis Darnell, who is in his first year at Texas State, is the architect of the offensive line. Think the man knows some football? Where were you when Coach Darnell started his coaching career in 1969?
After a slow start in Fall Camp, Coach Darnell has been impressed with the offensive line lately, “We’re getting more physical, we were soft to begin with.” Coach Darnell knows the offensive line has the physical tools and work ethic, “We’re pretty darn strong. Almost every guy in there benches 400 to 450 pounds, squats 500-600.” He continued, “They’re physically strong enough to do it. Now, we have to be confident and get off the ball and get it done.”
Coach Darnell discussed the depth of the offensive line, “Every team in the nation feels good if they have three backups that are as good as the starters. We aren’t quite there with that. We’ve really gained ground on that from where we were in the Spring. I think we will be at that eight-person depth, which is where you’d like to be.”
Mike Chambers has been one of the most pleasant surprises in camp. Mike has always been a good football player for the Bobcats, but has changed his body and challenged himself to raise his level of play. Hardly a practice goes by that you don’t hear Mike earning praise for his play. Strong, good feet, playing with a good motor and echo of the whistle attitude, look out for #55 in 2011.
Recently, Mike Chambers discussed the work that was put in during the offseason, “I took it upon myself that I had to get heavier, I had to get stronger. Last year I played at 280, so I put on about 15-20 pounds. I worked out with the other offensive lineman in the Summer…they were all in there with me, every day of the Summer, grinding, so I know they’re going to bring it too.”
Mike may have a future in scouting. I asked him if the high school talent is better in Texas or his native California, “I think we (California) have better teams, but Texas has better athletes.” Some nearby teammates (Texans, of course) gave “critical” reviews on his assessment.
You still have time to get your 2011 season tickets to support your Bobcats!
For our next blog, we go back to the defensive side of the ball with the linebacker corps.
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Eat 'Em Up!