USU football: Senior offensive linemen take pride in perfecting their craft on the field

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17 2013 3:40 p.m. MDT

LOGAN – So much in life is about protecting the things important to us. From the people we love, to our valued possessions, to our credibility and reputations, we take care of the significant things around us.

That protective nature tends to be particularly prevalent on the football field. While the quarterback may be the most well-known and visible player on the field, there are 10 other players out there at the same time as him, working together to accomplish the mission the team has set. Among the teammates working around the quarterback, the offensive line is the first obstacle for the defending team. They create a barrier and do whatever it takes to keep the quarterback safe and provide options for him to move the ball down the field.

There’s a reason members of the O-Line, particularly the tackles, are among the highest paid members of NFL teams. Their role in guarding and protecting the quarterback keeps the team strong and healthy, working toward the goals of success.

It’s a simple concept, stopping the opponent, but to these seniors of Utah State’s offensive line, that concept is everything.

“We take pride in that protection,” center Tyler Larsen said. “Being offensive linemen, we’re a different breed. Being able to protect one guy gives us a lot of pride. It’s something special to be five guys on the same page.”

Larsen isn’t kidding when he admits to being a different breed. You can pick out an offensive lineman a mile away. They’re big and tall with a wide, strong stance, long arms, large hands and quick feet.

The offensive line at Utah State is a rare one. Between the five starters, they have 120 starts, the fourth-most of any O-Line in the country. They are one of the few teams to have the entire starting five returning for the 2013 season.

With the experience this line has comes an undeniable chemistry. The Aggie linemen have developed a relationship that leads to a fluid and seamless system on the line of scrimmage.

“Having these four guys with me is huge. We have great chemistry and bond together well,” guard Jamie Markosian said. “We know what each other is thinking and can work together without speaking. We have an easy way of communicating. It’s huge for us as a unit and it brings a good example to the team. We’re five guys that stick together and have been through a lot.”

Because of the chemistry and experience this line has, the rest of the team doesn’t have to worry about the management of the offense.

“The team doesn’t have to worry about the O-Line. They know what we’re going to do, they know what we’ve been through,” tackle Eric Schultz said. “They know they can count on us and not have any questions.”

From an uninformed perspective, the quarterback may be the most important guy on the field. He calls the plays, makes the big moves and even if he’s not the one scoring all the points, he is a huge part of helping them be scored.

With a deeper look though, the importance of the offensive line becomes clearer. The meaning behind their work plays a vital role in how the quarterback does or does not succeed. The team that does a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage generally has the better shot of winning. That control starts with the offensive linemen.

“It’s cool to be the point of attack on every play,” guard Kyle Whimpey said. “We know how important Chuckie (Keeton) is and that he’s a big reason for the success this program is having. It’s our responsibility, if we want to be successful, to keep him clean and free of injury.”

With four distinct individuals who play the same position on the field, there are many similarities between them all. However, there are also differences between them that bring them together.

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