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Why the O-Line Preaches Versatility
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How has the transition been going?
Switching sides helps linemen become more versatile players. According to Head Coach Mike McCoy, the training they receive in camp will strengthen his offensive line, and ultimately, his team.
“When you can play all positions you understand the entire scheme…(they) are going to be a certain way (and) whether you’re playing guard or playing tackle or playing center,” he said. “We’re making all the same calls but you’re doing it from a different position. You’ve got to understand ‘What is your role in this play?’ I think everyone understood that last year on this football team and there’s a lot of guys who hadn’t played a lot of snaps in those positions but because of the work they did get during camp, it helped them in the long run.”
Another benefit to being well versed in all sides and positions is the preparation it gives players for unexpected yet inescapable injuries.
“It’s been really good for our group to kind of switch positions and different situations,” said Chris Watt. “It really prepares us for a game situation if someone were to go down and one of us had to move across to the other side of the ball. It just gets us prepared for that.”
Chad Rinehart agreed with Watt.
“There’s very few offensive lines that make it through the season with all five guys staying healthy for 16 games,” he said. “So (we know) how to play both sides, that way we can get the best combination going into games.”
Watt, Fluker and King Dunlap have all had experience switching sides, yet it’s still a transition each time they’re asked to do it.
“I’ve done it in college and it’s been a couple years since I’ve played right tackle, but the adjustment is minor,” Dunlap said. “It was tough yesterday but I got a little better today. I had to knock some rust off it.”
“It’s hard,” said Fluker. “But it’s about ‘How bad do you want it? How bad do you want to be good?’ It’s a challenge. Coach throws us into the fire to try and see how we respond.”
“(D’Alessandris) really put an emphasis on it these past two days by switching us around and getting us off our feet a little bit, making us not really know what’s going on and (having us) figure it out so I think it’s really good for the group,” said Watt.
So what’s playing on the opposite side like? Dunlap equated it to writing with your non-dominant hand.
“It’s like doing everything you do if you’re right handed but doing everything you do for the day left-handed. It’s backwards,” he said.
With two days of switching under their belts, the linemen are assimilating well. Then again, with the first preseason game a week away, you can never practice enough.
“It’s all about technique and trying to do your best at it,” said Fluker. “If you give good effort, everything’s going to work out.”