FOOTBALL: O-Line Looks To Get Back On Track At Army
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Boston College’s offensive line has been hearing from the NFL—just not in the way it’d like.
Although the offensive line has seen vast improvements in protecting the quarterback this year, it has struggled to block for the run as well as it has in the past. That has gained the attention of former Eagles that are now on offensive lines in the NFL.
“We hear from a lot of the alumni that came through the O-Line U that are playing in the NFL now. They’re all, ‘The O-Line’s got to take over.’ And it really hits us, that we haven’t yet,” said right guard Ian White. “The pass protection, we’ve improved a lot, but it’s that run game that makes an O-Line a great O-Line. That really bothers all of us, so we’re trying to do everything we can to get it fixed.”
It started when Marc Colombo, who played offensive tackle on the Heights from 1997-2001 and recently retired as a Dallas Cowboy, texted Mike Poidomani, the current strength and conditioning coach at BC.
“Colombo texted Coach Poidomani and was like, ‘This O-Line’s gotta take over.’ That really hit us,” White said. “These guys want us to be great. They’re behind us 100 percent. They want us to be a great O-Line, and that means fix the run game and get it going.”
Matt Tennant, who now plays for the New England Patriots, has also talked to the O-Line to say the same thing. The O-Line that Tennant and Colombo once played on at BC has diminished, and they want that tradition to be in full fledge in Chestnut Hill again.
The offensive line will have a chance to do just that this Saturday at Army, as the Black Knight defense is allowing 242.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks 115th in college football.
“I think we’ve had opportunities against every team we’ve played,” White said. “But Army’s defense puts them in a little bit of a bind in the run game. They struggle size wise. They’re going to try to move around a lot, which can open up some seams. We have a real opportunity to … if we can block the right guys, we’ll be in good shape.”
While BC’s passing offense ranks 13th in the country with 330 yards per game, the rushing offense ranks all the way down at 116th in the country with 84.5 yards per game. The offensive line sees that as its problem, and the front five are looking to change that this weekend.
“If you want to be a good O-Line, you got to be able to do both [protect the quarterback and block the run],” White said. “We have people that are great pass protectors and people that are great run blockers. But we need everyone to be great at both.”
Chase Rettig, who has been the biggest benefactor of the offensive line’s play this season, knows his line has made impressive strides in protecting him and believes it can do the same for improving the run game.
“I think all the guys up front have a really good motor, so they can do both [protect the quarterback and block the run],” Rettig said. “Obviously we’ve been working on our running game a lot more, just so we can have a little bit more success in the running game. That’s me, that’s the offensive line, that’s the running backs, that’s guys blocking downfield—it’s everyone in that picture.”
Facing an Army defense that has been susceptible to giving up heavy amounts of rushing yards, Rettig said he is looking forward to getting the offense flowing on Saturday, which starts with the run game.
“I think [an improved rushing game] will help a lot,” Rettig said. “Obviously we’re pretty good at throwing the football, but there’s going to be a game where you need to run the football. The running game is just as important as our passing game.”
Establishing the run game early on will only help out the passing game as well.
“We’re going to have to work really hard this week, and if the run works during the game, then obviously we’ll use our strong suits and throw play action,” Rettig said. “If you’re running the ball a lot, and you’re successful at it, then you’re going to get teams coming up on run fakes and you’re going to have play action, you’re going to have voids, you’re going to have windows.”
X’s and O’s aside, it all comes down to pride at the end of the day. The offensive line has prepared all year to protect Rettig and block for the run—just the way plenty of linemen before them always did so well. White knows that he and his teammates on the front line have a tradition to uphold—or regain, really—and they’ll take Saturday as another shot to do that.
“This is O-Line U to [the BC alumni], and we haven’t lived up to that yet,” White said. “We got to get there again.”