Offensive Line Seeks Improvement

The Cougar offensive front provided a dominant pass-blocking performance against Washington but lacked a bit in their run-blocking. Against Air Force it was somewhat the opposite, as the run-blocking improved but the pass-blocking wasn't up to the high standard they set forth against the Huskies. This week in practice, they're trying to put it all together for Florida State.

"There's a lot we need to work on," said left tackle Matt Reynolds. "We certainly have a lot to work on as an offensive line, but I feel that everyone is working hard to put the Air Force game behind us while learning from the mistakes we made."

While the offense provided some good production in the first half against the Falcons, the second half saw a meager effort. Some sloppy blocking led to some poor execution on the offensive side of the football, and thus no second-half points as Air Force ran away with the football game.

Reynolds knows that it begins with the offensive line not only in offensive execution, but in setting the tone for the entire team.

"We weren't happy with how we played and that needs to change, and we're working very hard to change it," said Reynolds. "Air Force threw some stuff at us that we weren't prepared for. When we're fully prepared for what a defense presents we do very well. When they bring some things we haven't prepared for, that's where we struggled and that's what we're focusing on this week with some other things."

Exceptional preparation leads to exceptional performances according to Reynolds, and that was what the offensive line was able to show forth against Washington. Preparing for the unexpected will help the offensive line be exceptional in any given game.

"Air Force had a very good blitz scheme coming in that we were slow to adjust to," he noted. "I think that's the next step for us. Adjusting what we do quick enough during a game to be effective is something we're working to improve."

While the pass-blocking against Air Force wasn't close to being as good as it was against Washington, the run-blocking did see some improvement. Some big holes were opened for J.J. Di Luigi and company, which led to some big gainers.

"We did a pretty good job run-blocking, but there is a lot we need to improve on there too," said Reynolds. "We need to fill up some of the gaps we had with our run-blocking this week, but I felt we were pretty solid. What we need to clean up most is the penalties - which are unacceptable - and the pass-blocking, but I think we've had a good week of practice so far and that we'll be ready."

Florida State presents a four-man front that is extremely athletic. While the Cougar offensive line saw good success against the Seminoles a year ago, they're fully aware of the challenges they'll present.

"They're a big, physical team, but they're also very athletic and faster than most defensive lines we'll see," noted Reynolds. "They're a lot more athletic than Air Force, and this week we're really studying their personnel specifically and who we'll be matched up with most of the time."

Reynolds will again rotate between right and left tackle, and he'll take on sophomore Brandon Jenkins (6-3, 234) as well as senior Mister Alexander (6-3, 227), who actually plays outside linebacker but will be used frequently to rush the quarterback.

"Speed is the biggest challenge from what we've seen on film," he explained. "I'll be seeing [Jenkins] and [Alexander] the most probably, so I've really studied them, what they do and what they're effective at. They'll bring different guys at us and try to get the quarterback in different ways, but those are the two I'll primarily be matched up against on passing plays."

Overall he believes that the offensive line is putting in some good work this week along with the rest of the offense, and that should lead to better production.

"It's hard playing a game like we did last week knowing that we weren't very good with our execution, so that's definitely motivating us this week," he summed up. "We need to be a lot better at our pass-blocking and we need to make sure we continue to improve on our run-blocking. Florida State is a tough team that will play very well, so we have to be ready for everything and improve on all facets of our game."

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