by Chris Kessler
It’s always difficult to come into the season with five new starting offensive linemen.
Last season’s offensive line broke numerous school records, had four players named first team Gulf South Conference, three players earning All-American status, and two players currently playing in the NFL. Not to mention, leading Valdosta State to a National Championship.
It’s safe to say this season’s offensive line has some big shoes to fill.
As the opening game inches closer, Head Coach David Dean still hasn’t cemented any linemen as definite starters but has a strong idea.
Colin Glasco, Felei Tauave, Michael Miller, Jeremy Daniels, and Jesse Yancey are projected to start week one against Fort Valley State.
“They’re starting to gel, but they haven’t played together, this was just their 20th practice they’ve been together”, said Dean after the team’s second scrimmage.
The five have zero starts between them. Glasco, Miller, and Yancey bring some experience, having been in the program for the last two years, and receiving some playing time as reserves last season.
Tauave and Daniels will be in their first year at VSU.
Tauave joins VSU as transfer from American River Junior College, and Daniels is a freshman who played at Lanier County in high school.
Offensive Line Coach and Offensive Coordinator Andy Richman knows there’s pressure for the new linemen but has high expectations for his group, “I think there always is (pressure). When I came in I set the precedent here to just be an offensive linemen and play here, everyone is counting on us. I think we put pressure on ourselves no matter what.”
The coaching staff doesn’t believe their offense will be limited by the offensive line.
“There’s obviously been some growing pains, but I don’t think there’s anything serious that we’ve had to hold back the offense. I know we’ve put in all our plays. They’re starting to gel and come together. It takes time for five guys to get on the same page. From week one to week seven, we’ll be better,” said Richman.
However, with only about a month of practice to get in tune, there could be some growing pains in the early parts of the season.
Coach Dean knows the entire offense needs to step up to compensate for the loss of last year’s offensive line. VSU returns impact players like starting quarterback Cayden Cochran, and players Cedric O’Neal and Seantavious Jones on offense to help out the new offensive line.
“It’s good, it gives us some time. It keeps a little calmness in that huddle with those guys upfront being brand new,” Richman said about the returning players on offense.
Projected starter Jeremy Daniels suffered a minor leg injury in practice earlier in the week, but the coaches don’t believe it to be anything serious at the moment. Junior offensive linemen Mat Mathews was taking reps with the first team in Davis’s spot.
Most football experts will tell you every play is dictated by the linemen. For VSU to win a second straight National Title, it could come down to how the new offensive line comes together.
VSU has their final team scrimmage today at 3:15, as they prepare to defend their National Title. The Blazers open the season at Fort Valley State on Sept. 7.