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BGSU offensive line has versatility

September 22, 2016 GMT

Experience lacks all around Bowling Green’s football team, but the Falcons’ offensive line is the one unit that contradicts that sentiment.

Even after losing tackle Jacob Bennett, who had started all 42 games of his career, Bowling Green’s starting offensive line combines for 111 career starts.

The group was instrumental is last week’s 41-21 loss to Middle Tennessee State when the Falcons rushed for 304 yards on 61 carries. The 61 rushes were the most for a Bowling Green team in a game since 1995.

“It was good to establish the run game the way that we did last week,” said right tackle Ryan Hunter.

“We’re a pretty confident group. We’re one of the oldest groups on the team. We breathe a lot of confidence in the rest of the team as well. We just go out there and try to do our best.

“It all starts up front on both sides of the ball. ... As long as we can do well and do our job, our team thrives off that.”

The line has been strong despite some movement since Bennett’s injury during fall camp.

Logan Dietz moved from right tackle to left tackle to spell Bennett for the season. He has 43 starts, and Tim McAuliffe had started 30 games at center.

Ben Steward is at guard, and Hunter is playing right tackle after playing guard last season. JJ Beggan is at the other guard position, while Austin Labus, a sophomore, has subbed in on multiple occasions, along with true freshman Lorenzo Taborn, who played for an injured Steward for a chunk of last week’s game.

“When teaching this and doing their homework, they’ve got to do every single position,” said offensive line coach Stephen Hamby.

“If they’re not versatile we’ll figure it out, but you better be able to play on the left and right side and flip your stance because that’s the life of an O-lineman.”

Each of the lineman have been versatile during their careers at Bowling Green.

Hunter has practiced or played every spot on the line, while Beggan has played center and guard.

Labus and Taborn each played guard last week as backups after both were primarily at right and left tackle, respectively, during camp.

“Having the ability to play more than one position helps a lot with your confidence and you chemistry as an offensive line,” Hunter said.

“Everyone knows that the offensive line is the only position that doesn’t substitute during a game unless there’s an injury,” Hunter added, “so if you have five people who know what everyone is thinking at the same time without having to communicate, it makes the world of difference when you’re blocking up schemes or stunts or blitzes, and you can tell what the person beside you is doing without even knowing just because you’ve played with them for so long.”

INJURIES: McAuliffe and Beggan, who were dinged up last week, both practiced Wednesday and are expected to play Saturday, while Steward is questionable.

Linebacker Austin Valdez practiced Wednesday and will play Saturday after missing most of last week’s game.

Ben Hale and Jack Walz remain out this week.