ULM's offensive line is an area of scrutiny as the team prepares for the season ahead. After years of stellar production and continuity, the unit took a step back last year.
The Warhawks allowed 31 sacks while averaging 337.2 total yards and 152.7 rushing yards per game. ULM gave up eight sacks in 2005, 13 in 2006 and 18 in 2007. The 2007 Warhawks averaged 385.7 total yards and 209 rushing yards.
Now under the direction of first-year ULM assistant Vance Vice, the offensive line is working to find the right mix. Vice answered WarhawkNation's questions about their progress so far.
WarhawkNation.com: Every time I come out to practice, I see different mixes of players with the ones and twos. You are still looking for the best mix, aren't you?
Vice: That's what O-line is. You try to find the five guys who work best together. This time of year is the time to do that. The closer we get, you start narrowing down the five. But if I get five that know what to do and I feel good about, I'll start working on six, seven and hopefully get to 10.
We've got 12 going right now with injuries and everything. You've got to create depth too. There have to be guys who know multiple positions.
WarhawkNation.com: Give us some of the risers in your group. Who has had a good camp?
Vice: This group, over the summer, has developed a tremendous work ethic. In the last few days, scheme-wise, it's getting easier for them. It gives me a chance to go back in and hone in on technique.
With guys like Brett Thompson, he's going to bring it every day. With him missing the spring , he's a little rusty. But he's getting that knocked off of him.
Mitch Doyle is getting a lot better with the transition from tight end to tackle. He's got a chance to have a great year. Justin Roberts and Jonathan Gill are what I call lunch pail guys. They try to get in there and stir it up. Ryan Dercher is coming off an injury, so he's sort of getting back into it right now.
A.J. DeGroot and Josh Andrews are guys that can play a lot of positions for me. A.J. can play all five. Josh can play both tackles and probably both guards if I ask him to.
Those seven guys have stepped up and are getting a lot of the reps right now. They're getting tired but they're doing a good job.
WarhawkNation.com: Doug Stroud is one of your big bodies with experience, but he's been hurting in camp. Is that a concern?
Vice: Doug had a good summer and got his weight back down. Then about a week before, his back began giving him problems. He's been in and out.
I've had him doing stretch drills during our individual periods, just so I can get some team reps. But in the last few days, he kind of came back to what he was last year. I'm trying to take it easy on him right now, as much as I hate to take it easy on any of these guys right now.
He's going to be one of the guys when we get down there. We just want to make sure when that first game rolls around, he's healthy as can be.