Blaszczyk Seeks Improvement Weekly

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The tradition of the offensive line flourishes with more pancake blocks and the rare sack allowed.

"I think we're getting better week by week, just getting better at the details, the small things and still creating that closeness and togetherness that an O-line needs," Rutgers football center Ryan Blaszczyk said. "We're coming together and we're really working hard."

Despite graduating three members of its line, the Scarlet Knights have allowed merely two QB sacks in three games, tied with Connecticut for the fewest in the Big East.

"I don't know," Blaszczyk said of giving Mike Teel enough time in the pocket. "We just try to block as long as we can, as hard as we can."

Although the program has registered an 0-3 record, Blaszczyk believes in his teammates, including Caleb Ruch and Mike Gilmartin, two new additions to the O-line.

"All of our guys, we see eye to eye," he said. "We don't wait for meetings like that, where we can lay into each other or say what's on our minds. If we have something to say as a team, we're comfortable enough as a family unit just to come up man to man."

Although he did not see action for two years, Blaszczyk maintained a vigorous work ethic throughout the year, similar to his teammates.

"We put in all the time, the hard work and the effort in the off season, whether it be winter conditioning, spring ball, summer, work outs and in practice, film room," he said. "We're putting in all the hard work, the long hours."

Blaszczyk's predecessors paved the way for his success. Pedro Sosa, Jeremy Zuttah and Mike Fladell earned national recognition for their superb efforts. The trio followed up on the fewest pass sacks allowed in the country in 2006 with a second place finish in 2007.

The numbers this season reflect this tradition; the two sacks allowed are tied with several others for 10th place in the nation. The Knights have also carried the ball for 452 yards, an average of 150.7 per game behind a relatively inexperienced group.

"We'll take everything, we ran the ball well," Blaszczyk said, referring to the Knights' 206 rushing yards in the 23-21 defeat to Navy. "We're getting better week by week. We're starting to get it."

Whereas a losing streak may damage an athlete's psyche, Blaszczyk said it has only made him and the Knights stronger.

"It's made me stronger and it's made the team stronger because we're really starting to rely on each other," he said. "It's bringing up closer together, just as brothers. When everyone is against you, you can only rely on the other 120 guys on the team."

As Morgan State (2-1) visits this weekend, Blaszczyk understands the challenges that await Rutgers and the importance of earning the first win of the season.

"It's gonna be hard," he said. "Every week it's college football. Every team's got talent. It's just how hard you're willing to work to get the win and a win this weekend over Morgan State would be a huge win. They're a real good team and it'll get us in the right direction for the rest of the season."

In the meantime, Blaszczyk upholds the tradition here and believes that the program will overcome the small setback.

"We've just hit some adversity," he said. "It's hard right now. We have to bow our necks, look it in the eye and punch it square in the face."


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