"We're optimistic because of the experience we return on the offensive line," said new head football coach Brian Kelly. "That's tempered, however, by a new system. It's a system based on throwing the ball more and the multiplicity of pass protection that goes with it.
"They've done a good job picking it up, thus far. "
Central Michigan returns four of five starters up front, led by second team All-MAC selection Adam Kieft, a 6-7, 328-pounder.
"Adam is counted on being an anchor for the line," said Kelly. "Physically, he can be a dominating player and that's our expectation for him."
Also returning as starters are 6-3, 294-pound center Eric Ghiaciuc, 6-7, 308-pound junior guard Jeff Jenerou and 6-4, 287-pound sophomore guard Drew Mormino.
"Eric is a solid center," said Kelly. "However, we're using the shotgun about 95 percent of the time. He's done a good job but he still needs to be more consistent on his snaps."
Jenerou started at tackle in 2003 but moved to guard in the spring.
"Jeff and Drew give us a physical presence inside," Kelly said. "They have played a lot, and have played against Big Ten teams like we'll face in Indiana and Michigan State."
Joe Staley saw considerable action as a true freshman tight end in 2003 but was moved to right tackle in the spring and is now weighing 275 pounds.
"Joe is athletic but at 275 pounds he's not very big," Kelly said. "He has to make up for it with great technique. He's getting better and we think he'll be a great player for us."
The biggest concern on the offensive line is depth.
Sophomore Eric Karbowski (6-3, 294) has the most experience. He played in three games a year ago and started one.
True freshman Andrew Hartline (6-4, 260), and redshirt freshmen Mike Decker ( 6-4, 271) and Brandon Zukoff (6-5, 280) could also see action.
Hartline moving into the playing group is not totally a surprise.
"Andrew is an excellent athlete and played the same system we run in high school," Kelly said of the Stevensville Lakeshore product.
The Chippewas will scrimmage in Kelly/Shorts Stadium on the new FieldTurf on Saturday beginning at 10:45 a.m.
Kelly has not yet decided on a quarterback with senior Grant Arnoldink and junior Kent Smith sharing the majority of the snaps.
Chippewa Offensive Line Boasts Experience
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