Storyline Central: Improvement on the OL

The offensive line was not a strong point last season but was overhauled and should be markedly more improved for a variety of reasons. Many names are the same this season, so how will the reshuffling, added experience and a new offensive scheme make a difference?

No unit enters Rutgers training camp next month under more scrutiny than the offensive line. A record-setting 61 sacks allowed in 12 games last is not something that can be transformed overnight, but the fixing is already underway. Rutgers will use training camp to reinforce and build upon spring's changes with the offensive line to put up an improved performance this season.

Howard Barbieri is the only starting offensive lineman gone from last season, but the look of the line changed significantly over the spring.

Andre Civil goes from reserve defensive lineman to starting left tackle. Civil (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) is undersized, but has the confidence of his team and had the offseason to add weight before training camp.

Desmond Wynn, Caleb Ruch and Desmond Stapleton are all fifth-year seniors. Wynn and Ruch will both compete for time at guard and Stapleton is comfortable at right tackle after starting on the left side last season.

Sophomore Antwan Lowery is now a true offensive lineman after shifting from defensive tackle to guard. Lowery was a starter in the spring game and is a key cog during camp.

Center, handled by Barbieri last season and Ryan Blaszczyk the three years before that, goes to David Osei after Dallas Hendrikson's unfortunate injury in the spring. Osei has no major competition, barring position changes, and though he lacks experience, is talented and could settle into the position.

The question is, does rearranging the same pieces from last season make for a better result in 2011? Here are a few reasons why the answer is yes.

1.) Sometimes a change of scenery works. Think of it as changing around the batting order. Civil is now batting cleanup. Stapleton is in the five-hole and guys like Art Forst and Devon Watkis are in pinch-hitting roles.

Some of these moves may not work, but others will come out glowing. It is part of reshaping the unit. Rutgers has seven linemen with starting experience to mix around along with new names like Osei and Betim Bujari. Camp is all about finding the right spot to bat Rutgers' linemen.

2.) It has to be better. Even with the sack total, most of the games were so close. If Chas Dodd gets one second more to throw, who knows how certain games could have ended last season? Even a slight improvement could be a big deal this season.

3.) Frank Cignetti. His name keeps popping up as a major storyline this camp. Like yesterday's article on Dodd said, some more play-action, shorter passes and involvement from the fullback and tight end will decrease time spent in the pocket and decrease vulnerability for sacks.

4.) Experience. The names are the same, but each one has an extra year in a college system, in a college weight room and relationship building.

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