YSU linemen getting work at different spots
Blockers get work
at different spots
By Charles Grove
Last year’s Youngstown State offensive line play was quietly one of the strongest areas of the team.
Between four different starting quarterbacks and a run-heavy offense, last year’s seniors Dylan Colucci and Brock Eisenhuth will be missed.
Now YSU is trying to find out who will replace the right side of the offensive line.
“We’re looking at their technique and for them to carry over what the coaches are teaching them,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “There’s a lot of carry-over from group drills and we’re seeing where they are.”
The line at the moment is a bit of a patchwork during the second week of spring ball. Left tackle Justin Spencer is being held out most of this spring while Gavin Wiggins and Cameron Fraser are sick.
That has frontrunners like Jeff Rotherham playing multiple positions while he’s also trying to hone his skill set.
“I’m playing the right side most of the time but I’m kind of getting cross-trained,” Rotherham said. “I’m trying to work on the smaller parts of my game, how I fill my set and such. I’m just trying to be as ready as I can this spring.”
And it can become even more confusing when playing one snap at right tackle and playing the next snap at left tackle.
“That can be a little funky,” Rotherham said. “That can get you sometimes. I always think of my right-side assignment first, then I’ll flip it over so it’s like, ‘OK. The right side is doing this so I’ve got to do this.’”
But the added benefit of being forced to play that way is a greater understanding across the entire offensive line.
“You just have to know the whole play and what’s happening,” Rotherham said. “If we’re in a gap-scheme play I know I’m down on the right side and pulling on the left side. You’ve just got to know the whole scheme.”
West Branch alumnus Connor Sharp is getting many of the snaps at right guard and for him, he’s mainly concerned about his technique at this point.
“I’m at the playbook every night,” Sharp said. “I know the plays and schemes well. I just need to get my footwork down, know what steps to take when, what to do when someone’s blitzing and keep going on my running and lifting.”
Pelini said it’s difficult to see progression as a unit in spring ball because of the nature of guys playing multiple spots. The staff is more focusing on individual positions at the moment.
“When you’re mixing and matching guys it’s hard to evaluate whole team units at this point,” Pelini said. “But it’s a good time for evaluation to see where guys are and it’s giving young guys an opportunity to step up.”
Running back Tevin McCaster has gotten a good look at the offensive line as he tries to rush through holes every practice. He said the competition has been good for the unit.
“Everyone is hungry,” McCaster said. “They’re willing to learn and that’s what spring ball is for.”
Through a week-and-a-half of spring practice it’s felt like anything but spring. Pelini said he hopes his team is able to get outside and practice at Stambaugh Stadium at some point soon.
“I hope [we can practice outside],” Pelini said. “We’re not going out in this. I looked at the long-range forecast and it looks like towards the end of next week it’s going to start warming up a little bit.”