“It’s been good,” Tujague said. “I’ve been happy but not satisfied. I’ve been pleased with the progress that we’ve been making as a position group. We’ve been making huge progress in protecting the quarterback at all costs. It is something that we’ve been working hard at and still be effective in our run game. It’s a good balance.”
One reason for so much offensive line shuffling is due to a lot experience found within the group. For Coach Tujague, experience outweighs age in a program.
“There’s nothing worse than going into camp with juniors and seniors and everything looks great on paper but they’ve never played,” said Tujague. “Now all those 11 guys have played in multiple games, so they know what it takes on Saturday. It’s a great situation. You find five guys and then ride them as long as you can. Other guys have earned repetitions and they get going in the mix.”
The first team unit has been constantly changing as fall camp has progressed. That could be due to the quality depth Coach Tujague is developing or it could be due to simply keeping guys hungry. It’s really hard to say.
“Guys are making huge strides and the depth chart is changing every day,” Coach Tujague said. “That’s the greatest thing in the world to be able to have competition. You know, we’ve had guys be two year starters that might not make the plane, and that’s unfortunate for them but it’s exciting as an offensive line coach because of the competition.”
When it’s all said and done the staff intends on traveling 10 offensive lineman. That means the coaching staff will have 10 players ready to play at any given moment, which is quite the luxury to have.
“Ten is definitely the plan,” said Tujague. “We’ll see what the needs are going into it, but ten is definitely the plan. Guys that can do more, you know, the more you can do the more you can do, and the value you have if you can be guard and tackle or play multiple positions then your stock is going to go up.”
One of the more surprising jumps of fall camp has been the play of true freshman Tejan Koroma, who has seen time with the first team offensive line. Koroma, who has some of the biggest arms among all the lineman, has earned some playing time with the first team according to Coach Tujague. The question of whether or not he’ll make the final 10 is remains to be seen.
“He’s earned that,” said Tujague. “I think if you go into any room, offensive line or defensive line, they’ll tell you he’s the absolute starting center, and so it’s a great deal. He’s battling summer school and his first major college football double-days of camp. I’m really excited and the kid plays hard every single snap.”
Although nursing an injury, Tuni Kanuch is another that has caught Coach Tujague’s eye, especially in the run game where he’s been known for being a road-grader in the trenches.
“Tuni’s making great strides and obviously the physical side he brings is unbelievable,” Tujague said. “It’s almost unmatched by anybody, but I think we’re doing a good job in creating that. We’ve sputtered a little bit here and there throughout camp running the ball, but that’s absolutely what Tuni brings. Man, I hope he gets back soon because that might be another guy that’s not on the plane when we go to Texas.”
As Coach Tujague continues to mix and match players throughout the depth chart, he’ll continue to tinker. He feels he’s reserved the right to do so right up until game time when the Cougars face UConn.
“Oh yeah, and I think that will go up right until the week of UConn,” said Coach Tujague.