What They’re Saying … O-Line Improves

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The offensive line provided Marc Verica plenty of time to throw against Maryland.

In last week’s win against Maryland, the offensive line had its best performance of the 2008 season, helping the offense pile up 31 points and 427 total yards against the Terrapins. The line allowed just one sack and one tackle for loss in the entire game. That allowed Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson to run successfully and Marc Verica to find receivers like Kevin Ogletree for big plays.

Virginia coach Al Groh said the O-Line played much better than they had in previous weeks as the Cavaliers stumbled to a 1-3 start. “It was a significant jump up, clearly, from what it had been,” Groh said. He also noted that it was right tackle Will Barker ‘s best performance to date.

Let’s take a look at some other thoughts about the offensive line in “What They’re Saying …”

Quarterback Marc Verica when asked it the line had shown improvement in practice prior to the success against Maryland …

“Things were improving during the week. We were just focusing on execution and it finally clicked. The offensive line did a tremendous job, pass protection, run blocking, everything – they deserve all the credit. It was really exciting. A couple of times I wasn’t carrying out my fakes because I wanted to just stop and kind of watch Ced or Mikell and see what they were going to do with it because the offensive line was doing such a great job. It was awesome.”

Verica when asked if he noticed the technique differences between Eugene Monroe and Austin Pasztor on the left side of the line (Groh had noted earlier in the day that Pasztor was a brawler type of lineman) …

“What I do know is that they’re both ridiculously huge human beings (grinning). Austin is only 17. I’ve never seen someone that big at that age. Obviously, there’s tremendous potential there. He’s very physical, he’s very big, he’s smart so there’s tremendous potential there. Playing on the left side with Gene there, that gives him more help. Gene’s unbelievably talented and he’s also a leader so he’s obviously helping him out. I couldn’t be happier having a left side of the line like that. Even with Stair, I feel the same way. Zak Stair is another great player to me.”

Al Groh when asked if the coaching staff was preparing some of the younger O-Line guys, including true freshmen, to play in case of more injuries (Zak Stair missed last week’s game with a knee injury) …

“It’s the same old story here, we have some guys with a good future who maybe thought in July they’d be checking out the spectators or waving to their mom that are now having to pay a little bit more attention to what’s going on in the game because they might be in there (chuckles). So it’s been a little bit of a rushed course for some of those kids and it will take a set of circumstances to use them, but obviously those circumstances can occur in just one play.”

Al Groh when asked what made the difference – better technique and execution, better pre-snap reads, or something else – for the offensive line against Maryland …

“Almost always, it comes down to technical execution. Plays work because you outplay the guys in front of you. If everybody on your line is outplaying the guy in front of him, you’ve got a good-looking play. If five guys outplay him and one guy doesn’t, you’ve given out a lot of positive grades but you’re not gaining any yards. It takes that cohesiveness of everybody outplaying the guy in front of him. That’s what it’s about. Outplaying him play after play and not having any of those ones [that stop the offense.] If you have five good ones in a row and then you have one [where] you get outplayed, all of the sudden you go backwards, you lose the momentum of the drive and you end up punting the ball.”

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