The Irish are deeply involved in summer workouts and the progress looks to be impressive judging by the size of many of the Irish players. Dan Stevenson says the offensive line and the team as a whole have really pushed themselves this summer. "Lifting is going excellent. The whole team has been doing a lot of lifting and running and I think a lot of progress has been made this summer. The team has really come together which is awesome because if you play like a team, good things will happen."
Stevenson said that the Irish offensive line has really worked hard this summer. Hopeful starters Zach Giles and Bob Morton have impressed Stevenson with their work ethic. "They've definitely impressed me. Obviously everyone wants to start and everyone wants to play. Both of them, their work ethic has picked up tremendously. Both of them want to earn that spot and have been working very hard."
The Irish offensive line will be the critical piece to the offensive puzzle this year and Stevenson says that they know what they need to do. "I don't think so," said Stevenson about feeling pressure to perform. "We know there is a lot of pressure on us but me personally, I'm just going to go out there and do my thing. I think the offensive line has really come together this year. We're a real close-knit group where in the past it may not have always been like that. Not to say that it wasn't in the past but I can really feel a connection that we've made this year that I hadn't always felt in the past when I was younger. We know there are a lot of expectations and there is a lot of doubt. I think that doubt is really what has been driving us this summer."
Stevenson says that bond will be important for the offensive line to have success. "I definitely think there is a special chemistry. I wasn't a starter last year so I can't really tell if there is more a chemistry than last year but I think there is. On the line you go to battle with those five guys and it's unlike any position. It's really like you are going to war with each other and that's all you can count on are the guys next to you. This year I've noticed that we've really come together. Everyone has a great attitude and wants to work hard and play hard. I think that attitude and our work ethic will help us succeed."
Zach Giles agrees that the offensive line has really worked hard. "I think its gone great," said Giles of summer lifting. "We're lifting three times a week and running three times a week so we're getting in game shape. We only have about three weeks to get ready so we're trying to get ready and to prepare for it."
Giles knows that he has a long way to go before he is awarded the starting center spot. "I'm going at it like it's mine and he's going at it like it's his," said Giles of the center position and his battle with Morton for the starting spot. "I think it's only going to make both of us better no matter who is playing. It's not a competition really. I want to start and he wants to start but it's a friendly competition. We both want the job but it's not like we don't get along or anything like that."
Giles also sees the chemistry developing along the offensive line. "Yeah, Mark (LeVoir), Dan (Stevenson), Sean (Milligan), Jim (Molinaro) and myself are just trying to build that chemistry. We're all lifting together; we're all running together and doing drills together. We're trying to build that solidarity that we need for this year. We've got four guys who have never played together so we're all trying to melt together and get as cohesive together as we can."
Giles sees all the starters on the offensive line becoming leaders for the offense. "I think all the guys are leaders. Jim (Molinaro), Sean (Milligan), I'd like to think of myself as a leader. I don't you are going to be able to play unless you can step up and be a leader. I don't think it's just one guy this year or two, I think it will be all five guys and that is how we are trying to build it."
All the offensive linemen in attendance looked very fit and appear to have had an outstanding off-season. The chemistry Stevenson talked about can only help this young and inexperienced group. We won't know how much improvement they've made until the first game but hearing Stevenson talk about chemistry and the positive attitude is certainly a step in the right direction.