Mackovic discusses the big boys

John Mackovic spent some time breaking down each position. In the first installment Mackovic discusses the big men of the offense. Mackovic feels good about his offensive line and tight end situation.

On the offensive line

"When I look at our offensive line, we are like a different group with Darren Safranek and Fraser back. They both have experience. They both are tall and have long arms. Our edge pass rushers kind of made a mockery of our pass protection over the spring, but they have not been able to have that same success in the fall. They still have been able to have some (success), but not as much as in the spring.

"Reggie Sampay is only a sophomore, but played a great deal last year. Kevin Barry is a veteran. They give us great experience at the guards.

"Steven Grace is the best center that I have coached. He's strong, he's physical, he's smart. The way you measure a center is if he can snap, step at the same time and keep on going. He can do that. He finishes his blocks. He's a good player. I've not had a college center better than he is at any time.

"Our key back-ups are John Vorsheck and Brandon Phillips. Vorsheck is trained at guard or tackle. Phillips can play either tackle. Our next center is Keoki Fraser. You really build around that.

"Vorshek will handle our PAT field goal stuff. John will handle out short staff. He worked with Sean (Keel) and Jason (Johnson) over the summer.

"We have a nice group of five freshman offensive linemen. Three scholarship and two non-scholarship players. Ozzy Ortiz and Matt Weigand are non-scholarship players, but have shown that they can come in and compete.

"Weigand is a natural center. I really like him. He just showed up one day with his dad. I think he contacted Charlie (Dickey). We didn't guarantee him a spot in the 105 (roster players) but he just came in and picked things up.

"That's a nice group of five. I think if they stay together they can be the nucleus of an offensive line for a couple of years at least. In recruiting next year we will look more towards offensive tackles than guards, because this group has more of the guard-types."

On the tight ends:

"James Hugo, Toge, gives us great experience there.

"Perhaps the surprise of the fall has been Justin Levasseur. He runs well. He's the fastest of them. He caught my eye while watching the scrimmage tapes. He ran good routes, he caught the ball, he blocked well.

"Steve Flemming looked good. Jay Boulware told me he's a natural. Then he sprained his ankle and it's a high ankle sprain. Those are hard one's to get over. It's going to take him another week, which makes him very limited for the first game.

"We moved Aaron Higginbotham to (tight end) from the offensive line because he was undersized.

"Peter Hansen continues to be one of those great stories about college football. He walks on the team and rises up to block a kick to win a game. He could have lived on that forever, but instead he wants to be a total football player.

"We will travel with four and maybe five tight ends because of the offense and what we do with them. We're one of the few teams that uses tight ends like we do."



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