UCF Spring Football Review: Offensive Line

Coach O'Leary

Last season, UCF running back Kevin Smith ran for a whopping 2,567 yards, which was a school record and the second most in a season in NCAA history. Smith was named to the All-American team and was given numerous accolades for his unprecedented performance, but the offensive line that paved the way for many of his gains went mostly unnoticed.

After losing three starters, UCF's offensive line is rebuilding but it certainly won't be a makeshift group as there is plenty of experience across the front five. Senior leader Patrick Brown will be leading the group this season and will be looking to set several records of his own.

Brown has started 38 consecutive games at left tackle for the Knights, which is the most of anyone in the nation. However, Brown is concerned with more than just his own record and made sure that he established himself as a senior leader this spring. "Coach lets the seniors lead the team," said Brown. "It's my job on offense, especially on the line, to make sure everybody's ready, like freshmen Nick Pieschel and Billy Offutt. I need to help them learn everything and get them ready because the team will need them."

This spring was certainly vital for Brown and the rest of the offensive line to get some repetition and fill in holes left by departing seniors Josh Sitton and Kyle Smith, as well as L.J. Anderson.

Brown provided some much needed leadership on the line and did a great job all spring protecting his quarterback's weak side in practice and during scrimmages and the Spring Game.

The two players listed at the top of their respective positions of the depth chart who didn't have many starts to their names are center Mike Lavoie and right tackle Jah Reid. Both were very impressive throughout the spring and look like they will each be fixtures on the line this upcoming season.

Coach George O'Leary was very impressed with Lavoie's effort during the spring and is excited to see if he continues to improve over the summer. "I am really pleased with him (Lavoie)," O'Leary said. "He has really caught my attention. He is blocking Torrell Troup every day in practice and some people don't understand what a chore that is with 320 pounds hitting you all day. So, he has really caught my attention in a good way."

Reid also more than held his own during the Knights spring sessions. At 6'7", 320 lbs, Reid is a mammoth player who has not only the size, but the tenacity to maul ends in the run game. Reid saw some solid action as a freshman last season and used that to his advantage during spring practice. "Jah's been doing real well this spring and I think the coaches would agree with me," said Brown.

During the last several weeks, the offensive line had the difficult task of going against an experienced and talented front seven, but the group held its own and elevated its play in pass protection and on the ground.

Not only was spring practice important for developing chemistry amongst the starters, but some younger players also got repetition. Sophomore tackle Mike Buxton had a good spring and worked at both tackle spots. Freshmen Offutt and Pieschel also performed well although they both made some rookie mistakes early on.

While the Knights still have questions regarding their quarterback and running back positions, this spring was certainly a successful one for the front five. UCF's offensive line gained some experience together which should help pick up the slack for inexperienced players in the backfield. If Brown can continue his consecutive games played streak and the rest of the line can continue to grow together, life will be much easier for the rest of the offense.

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