O-Line Tackling New Obstacles

The Iowa State offensive line figures to be a much-improved unit from one season to the next. But the group has struggled recently in practices with blitzes the defense has sent its way. Cyclone Nation caught up with veteran senior starting guard Bob Montgomery for an update on the offensive line.

CN: The defense has had the upper hand so far this week, and the offensive line has struggled to handle pressuring fronts. Is that common at this stage of spring practice?

Montgomery: It's just some of the younger guys that haven't faced those blitzes every day at practice like me, Casey (Shelton) and Cale (Stubbe). Luke (Vander Sanden) hasn't faced it as much. Casey, Cale and I know what's coming, but this is third day of practice and these new guys haven't faced it every day for two years. It's understandable that it will take a little while. It won't take them long, but they'll be able to get it and we'll be right up there with them.

CN: What is your evaluation of the right guard position right now, where Seth Zehr and Aaron Brant are battling for a starting job?

Montgomery: If we put any of them in there, I wouldn't blink an eye. There are actually four or five guys I'd put in there and not worry about it one bit. I'd put Seth, Aaron, Collin Menard and Matt Bockes in there anytime.

CN: So do you believe the depth will be a lot more plentiful this fall?

Montgomery: Just all of the young guys that were there last year that were depth for us. They didn't know what was going on (last year) and are the backups now. They know everything. There are twice as many people it seems like. Everybody knows a lot more about what's going on than last year.

CN: A lot is made of an offensive line's cohesiveness and ability to play well together. Is that starting to develop this spring, or will it take some time with two new starters taking the field?

Montgomery: That's the biggest key that we have to work on. It's coming together great, because we all hang out together off the field. But being able to communicate on the field is key. When we're saying one thing, everybody on the line needs to hear it and know what it means. That's the thing we had with Zach Butler at center. We've got to get everything down. And starting spring ball again, everything is a little rusty. Everything will come together.

CN: I'm sure you guys heard enough over the off-season about Iowa State's need to rekindle its rushing attack and take more pressure off the quarterback.

Montgomery: I think we started it, because that's the one thing we missed last year. That was the key to why we didn't do as well as we wanted to. If you run the ball you win ballgames. That's how it is. I think it will change a bunch this year, because now we realize that we needed to run the ball a lot more to win last year. The main goal is to get the W. That's going to be the key.

CN: Are you taking a more active role as a veteran leader on this offensive line?

Montgomery: That's what I've got to do – help teach a little bit. I'm trying to be more of a vocal leader. I'm not very good when I get up in front of crowds, so I've got to work on my speech-giving skills. (Leading by example) is not good enough when you've got to lead this team. I've got to be able to get up in front of this team and get my point across.

CN: In what areas would you like to see this team improve between now and the end of spring practice?

Montgomery: I think we're being physical enough and everybody is going hard. We just have to get our mental stuff down. We've got to cut out the penalties. We've only been practicing for a few days, but penalties aren't acceptable. That's the easiest thing. We need to come together more as a cohesive unit and gel together. That's the number one goal.

CN: Personally, what areas of your game need work?

Montgomery: My fundamentals got a little better over the winter, and I was working on my steps. They can always get better, though, with being consistent. I'm trying to run people over more, instead of hesitating. That's one of my major goals.

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