“We have a couple guys with minor injuries here and there but I think we’re going to be really good,” said sophomore offensive tackle David Oswald. “We’ve got three returning starters coming back. We’ve got Ray Feinga who got a lot of playing time last year and we’ve got a really good group. Right now a lot of guys are getting a lot of reps, which is good for us this early in spring ball.”
Those repetitions have forced some to play out of position. With tackles playing at guard and guards playing center, the offensive line was thrown into a mixer and time will tell who will rise to the top.
“I think our offensive line is going to be really good next year,” said Oswald. “It’s kind of hard to see that right now with spring ball because we’ve got a lot of guys in and out with injuries, and because of injuries we’ve got people playing in different places and moving around a lot. It’s kind of hard to see the bigger picture now, but all of us are out there everyday trying to get better and working hard.”
There is some concern that players might not be able to take advantage of spring camp in order to become “masters of their positions” with so much shuffling of personnel along the offensive line. Oswald chooses to view the situation in a positive light.
“Well, I think it helps right now because we’re still in spring ball and there is still a lot of time till next season, so we don’t have to really get set at one position,” said Oswald. “Doing this definitely helps us to learn the complete offense. It’s real easy when you play one position to think, ‘Well, on this play I’m going to go to the right or I’m just going to block the guy ahead of me.’ Now we get the big picture and know what everyone is doing and how to help them at their position. There is a little bit of a difference between guard and tackle and when you understand those differences you can develop techniques a little bit better than you otherwise could.
“I’m one of the only guys that don’t play guard and tackle because of my height. The guards have to keep the line of scrimmage square. They have to be a little big stronger and jam more at the line of scrimmage to keep that depth at the pocket. The tackle is more a quick footed guy in order to be able to get to the outside to block for the outside pass rush, but they also have to be able to stop a guy if he decides to bull rush also.”
Oswald returned from a mission to Hamburg, Germany just in time for spring ball in 2005. While redshirting last year, he spent most of his time bulking up and preparing himself technically for a future role on the line.
“I’ve put on about 30 pounds since a year ago, and I redshirted last year so I really learned a lot about the offense,” said Oswald. “I’m about 310 pounds right now, but I would like to develop my strength a little more and put on some more muscle As far as my weight, I don’t really have to go out and put on anymore weight. My weight isn’t much of an issue and I don’t have to put on any more weight unless if it’s good weight from muscle mass.”
The redshirt year did not just pay off physically for Oswald. The Brighton Hish School product also vastly increased his knowledge of the game through his work with the scout team.
“There really is a big difference a year can make,” said Oswald. “I spent every week preparing for other team’s defenses so I learned a lot more about the game. On top of that working on my own technique day in and day out has also helped me to progress. I’ve also had a year to study the offense and all my footwork, and playing offensive line there’s a lot of stuff in there that deals with a lot of technique.
“Once you know your assignment well, it’s a lot easier to be aggressive rather than worrying about what guy you have. You already know your assignments and feel confident you can get the job done, so now you just concentrate on your technique. I’m a lot more confident than a year ago. I’ve got a lot of work still to do but I’m confident in this offense. I redshirted last year and the year before that I was on a mission so I’ve come a long ways and now I think I can contribute to this team and help this offensive line when I’m needed.”
Big Jake Update
Offensive tackle Jake Kuresa is one of the nicked up linemen. TotalBlueSports.com caught up with Big Jake to see how he is coming along.
“I have a sprained ankle,” said Kuresa “It’s not really a threatening injury as far as me being out, it’s a just painful injury, so I tape it up everyday and play and it hurts and that’s basically it. We need to get out there and do some stuff so it’s a lot of icing and treatment in the training room and stuff, and I’m hoping it continues to get better. It feels better everyday and there are a lot of people who are familiar with ankle injuries and know it’s a bit painful but nothing that will keep you out of practice.”
Kuresa feels that those who are currently suffering from minor injuries and were a big part of the offensive line last year will be back and ready to start in their season opener against Arizona.
“Oh yeah, the offensive line will be completely healthy by the time the season starts,” Kuresa said. “I’ll be ready to go and will be in the best shape of my life. Everyone will be ready to go. I know Ray [Feinga] and Dallas [Reynolds] had the same shoulder surgery that I had and I was ready to go last season.”