Navy 2014 Football Review: Offensive Line

GoMids.com offers our review of the Navy 2014 football season. GoMids.com’s Jim Lawler discusses each position of the team and assigns a final grade. In this segment we discuss the offensive line.

OFFENSIVE LINE: B+

Navy ranked second in the nation while averaging over 336 yards per game. It was a better showing than last year when they averaged 325.4 rushing yards per game. However, the line had it rough in some games being outplayed against Rutgers and Air Force and it was awful in pass protection.

Senior right guard Jake Zuzek ended his career starting 39 straight games and was Navy's best offensive lineman. Jake lost twenty pounds in the off season to improve his quickness. He was able to bench press over 500 pounds and at times was an overpowering as a one-on-one blocker. Zuzek earned First Team all FBS Independent honors, All East and Phil Steele's All-Independent team.

Junior left guard E.K. Binns was been effective despite playing in pain with an injured shoulder that will probably need off season surgery. His shoulder has probably hurt him in pass protection at times. He missed only one game and his run blocking was superb all year. Binns earned First team all FBS Independent honors and All East honors.

Senior center Tanner Fleming was one of the strongest players on the team. He's hurt his ankle in the second quarter against Western Kentucky and was limited for a few games. He tried to play against Air Force but came up hobbling early in the game and the Mids missed him the rest of the way in the loss against the Falcons. He sat out against VMI but returned to start every game the rest of the way. It’s not a coincidence that his returned to health, along with Reynolds keyed a Mids running game that averaged 35 points per game in the second half. Fleming was underrated. Blaze Ryder played in nine games and filled in at center for Fleming against Western Kentucky and Air Force but missed the VMI game with an injury.

Senior left tackle Bradyn Heap didn't play as well as he did his junior season. Heap was a good run blocker but struggled against athletic pass rushers and his pass blocking fundamentals often saw basic technique breakdowns. He did do a nice job filling in at center against VMI due to injuries to both centers. Heap had started his career at center.

Right tackle was been manned by junior Joey Gaston who has been solid player with good size and feet. Like most Navy linemen he's had some issues in pass protection. Navy ranked dead last in the nation in sack percentage allowed and the line's inability to protect the quarterback is why they earned a B+ rather than an A-grade.

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