| 03.20.2018

Big in the trenches


Idaho O-line is starting to mesh

Everyone likes to watch quarterbacks, receivers and running backs make explosive plays, but it’s the offensive line that does the dirty work and allows those long pass plays and long run plays to happen.

The offensive line can be underappreciated a lot of times, but many people believe games are won and lost in the trenches.

Yishan Chen | Argonaut The offensive and defensive lines square off in a heated practice Wednesday on the SprinTurf.

Yishan Chen | Argonaut
The offensive and defensive lines square off in a heated practice Wednesday on the SprinTurf.

While the Vandals will try to improve their skills on the offensive line this spring, they know they can expect good size when they enter the 2015 season. Junior tackle Mason Woods is 6-foot-9 and weighs 355 pounds, junior tackle Devin Wiltz is 6-foot-7 and 332 pounds and sophomore Jordan Rose is 6-foot-6 and 323 pounds, and they make up just a few of the linemen.

“There’s some size there,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “I think this day and age kids are just bigger. It still comes down to playing hard and playing with good techniques is probably the most important thing.”

Rose, who Petrino said plays tackle and guard, Woods, senior guard Dallas Sandberg and junior center Steven Matlock appear to be four of the five starters along the offensive line. Rose got hurt during Saturday’s scrimmage and missed practice Monday and Wednesday.

Junior tackle Calvin White, sophomore guard Andrew Erbes and Wiltz received multiple reps with the first-team offense Monday as they vie for the other starting spot.

The Vandals will enter the fall season without Mike Marboe, the center who has anchored the Vandal offensive line the past four seasons. Instead, Matlock will move from the guard position and try to fill Marboe’s shoes.

“Steve’s smart and really understands the game and he’s playing hard,” Petrino said. “It’s a little different role for him. It’s a little more mental for him now, but he’s doing a good job so far.”

Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Kris Cinkovich, who enters his third season with the Vandals, said Matlock is quick and should be a solid center for the program.

Sandberg, a 6-foot-5, 303-pound guard from Prescott Valley, Arizona, will bring size and experience to the guard position. Sandberg is the only senior offensive lineman listed on the roster, but there is still experience on the offensive line.

“We probably have 80 games between all of us, and that’s a lot of experience,” Sandberg said. “So that helps a lot when live bullets are flying.”

With Sandberg being a senior, he has some final goals he wants to accomplish. He said his two biggest goals are winning the Sun Belt Conference and going to a bowl game.

“Dallas is a quiet guy,” Cinkovich said. “He needs to do more, because he’s a good player. He really earned a lot of respect in our program last year.”

Cinkovich said the offensive line as a group is on the quiet side.

“We’re a quiet group unfortunately, so we’re trying to build on that and at least demonstrate some passion and enthusiasm,” Cinkovich said.

Rose should be a key contributor on the offensive line as he was last season. He was named to the Sun Belt Conference Newcomer team as a true freshman.

“Coaches have spoke to Jordan (Rose) about being another guy that’s got to come forward because he’s, really as a true freshman, was an accomplished player in the Sun Belt last year,” Cinkovich said.

Sandberg said the offensive line is really coming together so far this spring.

“This is probably the best O-line I’ve been on since I’ve been here, mesh-wise,” Sandberg said.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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