UP CLOSE: The Offensive Line
BERKELEY - During a tumultuous season last year, many, including offensive line coach Zach Yenser, described the offensive line of the California football team as the weakest part of the team. However, the end of spring practice approaches, Bears head coach Sonny Dykes and Yenser both like what they are seeing from the group thus far.
"Better. It's a group that has looked to me like you can tell there a year further a long," says Dykes. "They're just so much stronger, all of them as a group. Steven Moore is probably made as much progress as anyone on our team from last year to this year. He's just a stronger guy, and he's more certain. He's got a chance to be a really great player and we're excited about what he's doing."
"I think we're making strides," says Yenser. "We know that we got a long way to go but we're on the right track and the biggest thing we're doing right now is that we're playing with a bit more confidence than we did last year. That comes with playing time and experience, and that's one thing you can't teach. Also, having everyone back and healthy is big."
Yenser also singled out Moore for praise when mentioning the most improved members of the offensive line. Moore has now become entrenched as the anchor on the line and the starting left tackle going into the season.
"Steve has done a really good job for us," says Yenser. "He was probably at the end of the year our most consistent offensive lineman. So, just watching it through the year and the left tackle being such an important part of the line with a right handed quarterback, we thought he was our most consistent tackle and we wanted to move him over there. He accepted the challenge and everyone in that room will step up in any position they need to be. They don't care. They always talk about being football players and not just a left tackle."
After last season, it became apparent that the right side of the line was where many of the problems lay. Many injuries decimated the team's depth, but Yenser emphasized that it wasn't one side of the line, but the entire unit that failed the team.
"I think as a whole last year, we were the weak point of the football team," said Yenser. "I think we knew that and we didn't do a good job running the ball. We gave up too much pressure and we took ownership. We watched all off-season of all of our tape on negative runs and sacks and we're learning off that type of tape. I don't think it's right side or left side, I just think it's as a unit, we've just been preaching about being more physical. It goes back to these guys being stronger and more confident with it this year and knowing what's going on. I think we're starting to build a little bit of depth, and we still know we have a long way to go but we're taking the steps in the right direction."
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