Like any offensive lineman, John Greco will tell you that run blocking is the fun part of the job. Line em up, lay em out, may the best man win.
But Greco and his mates on the University of Toledo s offensive line didn t have much fun Saturday at Central Michigan.
After seven weeks of establishing themselves as one of the nation s top rushing offenses, averaging more than 230 yards per game, the Rockets took a step back with just 95 net rushing yards.
Bruce Gradkowski led UT with 60 yards on the ground and, unless his name is Michael Vick or Vince Young, it s normally not a good thing for the quarterback to be a team s leading rusher.
The Rockets, who went in with a 5.6-yard average per rushing attempt, were held to 3.2 yards per try by the Chippewas while losing for the first time in Mid-American Conference play.
They were very good defensively on the line and at linebacker, UT coach Tom Amstutz said of the Chips. That said, we have to lock up our blocks better.
He s preaching to the choir.
A lot of it has to be self motivation, said senior right guard Chris Wakeman. The coaches are great, but they can only say so much.
We just have to reach within ourselves and do what we need to be successful.
We can t really dwell on the negative, on one week. We just correct it.
Greco said that one bad outing isn t cause for pushing the panic button.
We know what we d been doing before that, the 6-5, 318-pound left tackle said.
Greco and guard David Perkins, both second-year starters as sophomores, hold down the left side of the line. Wakeman is on the opposite side with tackle Jerry Aguwa. Hassan Adebesin starts at center.
Greco and Perkins started together on the right side last season and line coach Mike Devlin admits it was a bit of a risk to move two young players to the left, where they protect Gradkowski s blind side.
But I didn t want to separate them, Devlin said recently. Potentially, they could have the opportunity to start together for four years in a Division I program and that s really a rare thing. Having them there could be really special when all is said and done. special when all is said and done.
Wakeman is a veteran and his versatility made him an easy fit on the right side.
When something like last week happens and you don t play the way you re capable, you have to get back to the basics, said the 6-5, 290-pound Wakeman. When you don t do the little things properly they can become big things.
The big thing tomorrow night, when the Rockets return to action at Ohio University, is re-establishing UT as a threat on the ground. The Bobcats, who average better than 200 yards per game rushing, have allowed opposing runners just 152 yards per game.
We have tremendous confidence in our line and running backs, Gradkowski said. We just have to get back at it against Ohio.
Starting running back Trinity Dawson had just nine yards on nine carries at CMU and saw his average dip to 91.1 yards per game. Backup Jalen Parmele ripped off a 21-yard gain, but otherwise the UT rush attack never got off the ground.
We have tremendous depth at running back, sort of a four-headed monster, said Greco, adding Richard Davis and Quinton Broussard, neither of whom had an attempt at CMU, to the backfield mix. We need to open some holes for them.
We know that without us nothing gets rolling. As a group, the O-line has been hard on itself this week. I m confident we ll respond.
Contact Dave Hackenberg at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.
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