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PRESEASON PRACTICE UPDATE: Offensive Line Preview

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: August 19, 2012
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Aug. 19, 2012

OFFENSIVE LINE PREVIEW:

The offensive line features of mix of veterans and several new faces coming into the 2012 season.

"It's a young group," said Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach Brian Scott said of the line. "They are going hard right now, but we've got a few returning guys and the new ones are learning on the job."

"We come together as a group," Scott continued. "The expectation is always to protect the quarterback first and foremost and stay away from back and negative plays."

Last season, the o-line helped pave the way for the Monarch offense to lead the CAA and ranked among the top-10 nationally in scoring offense and total offense. ODU averaged 36.96 points over its 13 games last season and raked in nearly 440 yards of offense per contest. Additionally, protection by the line allowed he Monarchs' rush offense to end the year third in the league and the pass offense to come in second in the CAA and among the nation's top-20.

"It's been going really well.," said right tackle Robbie Duncan, the most seasoned Monarch on the line who enters his final season with the team. "We've been really focusing on what Coach Wilder says `think fast, play fast.' Our practices are faster than they've ever been."

"They demand a lot," said Duncan of the line staff, which not only includes Scott, but Michael Zyskowski, who after coaching the running backs the last three seasons joins Scott in mentoring the offensive linemen. "They are very smart coaches and the bring out the best of us. They make sure are all communicating together and getting each of us on the same page blocking for the quarterback."

Duncan, who joined the Monarchs in 2008, has seen the change in the line over the years and the improvement it's made.

"I look for our o-line to be more cohesive as a unit together," he noted "We communicate a lot better. We've got a solid goal of getting the job done and putting a good team out there. The offensive line back in the day was learning the techniques and the plays, and all the different assignments. What's really changed, between that and not just knowing out assignments, is our physicality. We're real physical and we play hard and make sure the defense knows they've gone up against us."

David Born will replace the graduated Ryan Jensen at left tackle after playing left guard last season. He too has seen the preseason practices go well for the line as well.

"As an offensive line, I think we're pretty much together and now it's about fining tuning and learning each other tendencies, Born said.

Taking over Born's former position at left guard will be Jack Lowney. As a freshman Lowney saw time at right guard and last season started at right tackle.

At center, Josh Mann will take over the duties from three-year starter Jeremy Hensley, who was also among the Monarchs lost to graduation.

"Mann, he's a great center," Born said of the new Monarch responsible for snapping the ball into play. "He's smart, strong, and fast too."

At right guard, Wilder has been looking at a trio of Monarchs for the starting slot. D.J. Morrell saw ample playing time with the No. 1 offense in the last Monarch scrimmage at that right guard position could also be pushed by redshirt freshman Connor Mewbourne and veteran Brandon Carr.

Bolstering the strength the line will be Mike Justice, who returns after being pressed into service as a freshman and redshirting last season, as well as redshirt junior Perry Owen and redshirt sophomore Wes Moulton.

Also joining the line are FBS transfer Jason Rexroad from Middle Tennessee and freshmen Troy Butler, Andrew Maddox, Tony Williams, and Tyler Compton.

"My goal is to play at All-CAA kevel or whatever level I have to play to help the team win," said Duncan of going into his final campaign with the Monarchs. "If I'm playing well, then that means the offensive line is playing well."

"I just want to help my team win," said Born "and go where we want to go - back to the national tournament."

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