New look offensive line is ready to step up

Hayden Boudreaux

One of the main questions around the upcoming football season is focused around the renovated offensive line. The squad made up of transfers, returning starters, and new faces is ready to answer those questions.

The new offensive line will certainly face huge expectations after the success of last season. With 7.1 yards per rush and 381 rushing yards per game, last year’s offensive line was considered the most efficient run blockers in the country. While credit typically goes to the skilled running backs and quarterbacks, they maintain that their jobs and success relies heavily on their line.

There are still several practices and a scrimmage before the first game of the season against West Virginia, meaning that the starting offensive line has yet to been officially decided. That being said, certain players have established themselves as valuable resources for the offense.

Transfer players are typically expected to make big impacts quickly at their new school. It is no different in the case of senior Roscoe Byrd. Byrd was taking the field for UAB as a true freshman, and probed to be one of the best they had as he started all 12 games last season for the Blazers. Once the football team was disbanded, the players were forced to spread out across the country to find new places to hang their helmets.

Byrd certainly stepped into a huge role for the Eagles when he announced his transfer, but the fans (along with the back field) are certainly happy to have him filling it. There will likely be a starting position waiting for Roscoe when the team sets down in West Virginia, and he has the size, experience, and athleticism to make big things happen.

Junior center Andy Kwon will likely start against West Virginia which will be the first start of his college career. The North Gwinnett native played in three games last season but there is a lot of support from the rest of the line behind him. Kwon has been described by his fellow linemen as a strong and explosive player who will make big waves this season. As a backup last season, he was able to observe the starters and learn from them. Kwon identifies a key difference from this year to last year.

“Effort, just effort. We work extremely hard every day in drills, getting together watching film, and doing the extra stuff outside of football. Watching those guys last year was huge for us because we got to see how they worked and learn from it,” Kwon said.

When looking at the leaders of the line, and the team in general, look no further than senior Darien Foreman. When talking about experience on the offensive line, Foreman has no competition as he has played in 31 games in his career, and started in every game last season. This experience in invaluable to the rest of the line, who unanimously regard him as the strongest all around offensive lineman.

Last season, the offensive line would give goals to the running backs for their performance. After some intense calculations, Foreman came up with his goal for sophomore running back Matt Breida and it is staggering. Breida’s mission from Foreman and the line is to rush for over 2,000 yards this season, and he would only be the 15th player ever to accomplish this feat. Naturally, the love and admiration of the fans would belong to Breida as the offensive line does their job unnoticed by most. While some athletes may get bitter, Foreman uses this as motivation.

“What keeps me motivated is getting to be physical. When I see Breida and those guys break (away) we don’t get all the credit, but it makes us feel good to see those guys get the credit and let everyone see that he is the best running back in the country,” Foreman said.

The linemen will improve over the duration of the season, as with any team but this group has plenty of pressure to produce quickly. If they can live up to the challenge, they will have a chance to make history by winning a second straight Sun Belt championship and the right to play in the school’s first ever bowl game.