If there is one area in which the Colorado State Rams don’t usually have to worry about, it’s the offensive line. One look at the 2016 season is a good indicator.
The Rams were very solid up front, allowing only 13 sacks over the course of the season and only one in the final six games. They also cleared the way for Colorado State’s three-headed backfield. The backfield, made up of Dalyn Dawkins, Izzy Matthews and Marvin Kinsey Jr., rushed for 2,199 yards in 2016.
Senior center Jake Bennett knows that the Rams will need the offensive line to be big again in 2017.
“I think that’s the expectation every year,” Bennett said. “We need to be the center of the offense. We have to be the guys that everybody can lean on when things aren’t going well.”
Junior tackle Zack Golditch admitted that there was some added pressure heading into the 2017 season after the type of season the offensive line had as a unit in 2016.
“That’s the bar that was set,” Golditch said. “The expectation is to do better than you did last season because that’s the whole point of growing. I definitely think we have the talent to do it, we just need to work a little bit harder.”
Colorado State’s offensive line saw four of its five starters receive All-Mountain West honors in 2016, but will look to fill holes left by Fred Zerblis, Nick Callender and Paul Thurston. The Rams will return center Jake Bennett and tackle Zack Golditch.
Despite losing the three high-caliber starters, the Rams have the players they need to reload. While Trae Moxley, Colby Meeks and Jeff Taylor all bring experience to the table, Golditch knows that he and Bennett have an important job to do as the veterans of the offensive line.
“Being a veteran guy, it’s a different feel trying to bring guys along,” Golditch said. “We’ve learned things from the older guys and now, we’re the oldest guys. We’ve got to get everyone else on board. I think they’re coming along.”
In order to get everyone moving in the same direction, the Rams are looking for some consistency on the offensive line. Head coach Mike Bobo knows that that’s something that will take some time.
“We’re having to mix and match just because of numbers,” Bobo said. “Some of those guys are having to play different positions.”
Bobo also said that he likes what he’s seen out of Taylor, Nicho Garcia, Tyler Bjorklund and Moxley.
“Those four guys have got ability,” Bobo said. “It’s just keep putting them in those situations and find out where their best fit is to help us.”
While the Rams continue to plug different players into different spots, Bennett made it clear that it’s okay of the product isn’t polished yet as long, as long as everyone is making an effort to get better.
“I think that’s where it starts,” Bennett said of the effort in camp. “I think the biggest thing is to get better every day. If you do that every day it will make fall camp easier and that’ll help the season. If guys take it seriously, apply what the coaches are doing it will be a lot easier for us next fall.”
As for expectations early in the season, the only expectation Bennett has is that the offensive line realize that the team runs through them.
“I think us as a group know what we need to do,” Bennett said. “We need to be the rock of the offense and need to have the ability for people to lean on us. I think that’s our expectation”