family within: USU offensive line working on teamwork
By Tim Olsen
April 10, 2009 | Heading into the 2009 season, the
offensive line at Utah State has been introduced to
new coaches and new schemes. Those introductions have
only helped to bring this already close group even more
"We hang out a lot together on and off the field,"
said USU senior guard Brennan McFadden. "We're
a tight knit group always joking with each other . .
. our lockers are all next to each other and we're basically
like a little family within a family."
McFadden, the lone senior on the line, is the leader
of a group that is returning 10 players that saw playing
time last season.
"We had two seniors leave and I'm the only senior
on the O-line this year, and these guys always give
me a bad time about being the old guy," McFadden said.
"It's a young line, but it's an experienced line, so
Experience has come in handy as the linemen work together
to pick up the new schemes and adjust to new position
coach Alex Gerke.
"He (Gerke) makes sure he doesn't let any of
us slip up, whether it's football, school, or helping
out in the community," said junior tackle Spencer
Johnson. "He's always stressing how all the little
things are going to add up to something big."
Gerke said the offensive line has been really working
for the first time since his arrival.
Despite the new work ethic, some traditions have carried
on, and one of those continues to combine the O-line's
passion for food with their enjoyment of being together.
"Coach Gerke, for spring break, took all the O-linemen
out to a buffet and we did business there," McFadden
Though the group has found no new hot spots since
this tradition was revealed last year, they have not
put any restaurants out of business either -- though
Johnson did express interest in a new Hawaiian BBQ he'd
Getting back to the gridiron, new head coach Gary
Andersen has noticed the work ethic his linemen have
"Overall I see hard work, I see toughness that is
progressing, I see the ability to finish which is progressing
and I see them paying more attention to detail and less
mistakes," he said. "We're progressing, but we're by
no means where we need to be at, but that would hold
true for the whole football team."
Compared to their preparation for last season, the
linemen have noticed a difference in their intensity
and work ethic as well. Both McFadden and Johnson spoke
about how prepared their group is becoming and how that
will help them in the fall.
"Everyone's working hard, everyone's running
and everyone's flying around," Johnson said. "It's
tough learning a new offense, but the effort is there.
. . . If you have a lot of effort, it's going to show
up on the field."
The offensive line is looking to build on a season
in which they helped the offense average 137.8 yards
per game on the ground and tie for the third best red
zone efficiency in the country. This season the Aggies
will look to keep that percentage up, but get into the
red zone more.
A former offensive lineman, Andersen knows that the
hard work his front group is putting in will pay off.
"Hard work can get you in a position to win football
games, it can get you in a position to do things right,
but it doesn't win football games. . . . Players have
to make plays to win football games."