Griffin talks O-line and legacy

A lot of the talk this spring has centered around the talented skill position players that head coach Butch Jones has inherited at Cincinnati. However, as everyone knows, the key to a good offense is a good offensive line, and the Bearcats are no exception.

Cincinnati returns three starters on the offensive line in Sam Griffin, Jason Kelce and Alex Hoffman, a group that combined for 38 games started in 2009. All five players who have been working as the first team offensive line in spring practice are juniors or seniors.

While experience looks to be a key factor for the offensive line, they might be starting two players who played in a combined nine games last season, zero starts, in Evan Davis and T.J. Franklin. Senior Sam Griffin believes those players are ready to step up in 2010.

"Evan Davis has been ready to play since he came here. It's just a matter of building a little size on him and getting him ready," Griffin said. "We've got some guys who can play is what it comes down to, and I think they're going to come in and step up and do they're job."

Griffin doesn't believe the lack of overall playing time for Davis and Franklin will be a factor, drawing from his own experiences.

"Coming into last year I had only started one game and I ended up starting the whole season, and that was a pretty good season," Griffin said. "I matured as a player going through that process."

When former coach Brian Kelly came to UC he began changing the type of offensive lineman Cincinnati recruited, moving from the bigger Big 10-type lineman to a slimmer, quicker lineman for his fast paced offense. Butch Jones and his staff have kept that same model according to Griffin.

"You need offensive lineman in this type of offense," Griffin said. "You don't want to be too big because (in this offense) offensive lineman have to move in space."

And moving in space is an important aspect considering the zone and gap blocking philosophy of the offense. The players on this team got a few words of advice from a former player, something Griffin said he and the rest of the seniors have taken to heart.

"Haruki Nakamura came to practice and told us ‘seniors you've to look at this team and your last year, it's your legacy you're leaving at the University of Cincinnati,'" Griffin said. "We have a small senior class and pretty much all the seniors have come together and said that we need to put (this team) on our back."

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