Coming into the fall, the offensive line was thought by some to be a question mark of sorts. However, after a few weeks under new line coach Matt Moore, it's looking less like a liability and more like a strength with each passing day.
One of the notable developments along the line has been the emergence of JUCO walk-on Jake Johnson, who is now penciled in at right tackle. This moved Rylan Reed to left tackle, Louis Vasquez back to left guard, and former starter Marlon Winn out of the starting line-up.
However, the good showing the line has turned in thus far has largely been in a practice setting that is not full contact. So how did the big uglies fare when the pads were on in yesterday's scrimmage?
"You know, I felt like we started strong," said a pleased Moore. "We had a good drive and moved it the length of the field, and you know, without really any really big plays, which, for us is a good thing because that means people are doing their jobs, and that 's what Coach Leach is really preaching right now, just do your job."
However, Moore wasn't entirely satisfied with the end result.
"Then we got down to the goalline and just couldn't stick it in," he said. "Which was disappointing, you know? We want to be able to finish a drive, that's one thing we're all about is finishing. So, you know, we had our good points and bad points, nobody really stood out. Of course, we won't really know until we watch the film. I didn't feel like the second group did very well, but the young guys in the last group had some really bright spots."
As for the Johnson/Reed/Vasquez shuffle, Moore says it worked out well on Thursday.
"I think he played a lot better than he did on Tuesday," he said of Johnson. "We had a team period on Tuesday against a scout team giving us SMU stuff, and he didn't have a very good day. I felt like he'd relaxed a little bit, like he'd won the job and relaxed. So today I challenged him and he responded and \did the little things right and did a good job with it."
As for Reed, it appears he's adjusting to life on Graham Harrell's blindside quite well. Moore told us that during the scrimmage there wasn't much noise coming from Reed, which is a good thing.
"The thing with Rylan is that he's just so consistent," explained Moore. "He's so quiet over there, and you just don't hear anything from him because he's so good. He's strong, he's got good feet, and basically, he's an older guy, so he understands what doing your job means, and that's what he does."
However, in the end, the most beneficial part of the scrimmage could have been the format, according to Moore.
"Well, the 1's went for about 15 plays," he explained. "Then the two's went for about 15 plays as well, and both of those were 1's vs. 2's. So no 1's on 1's or anything. Then we went 2's on 2's for another 15, and then we closed with what Coach calls Thursday night football, which is your guys that aren't really playing a lot. And for me, my 2's need a lot of reps, so I got them some reps there too. Marlon Winn, Chris Olson, Stephen Hamby, Justin Keown, Mickey Okafor, guys like that got some good reps with that group. They were just guys I felt like needed to get some reps so I threw them in there and I think it went pretty well."
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