The summer routine of an offensive linemen may actually be more ego-draining than the occasional mid-game mistake that suddenly reveals their presence to otherwise oblivious spectators.
The O-line isn’t included in seven-on-seven workouts. The big-bodied blockers build strength, yes — but they’re also expected to expand their weight-limited endurance during various conditioning exercises. They don’t even get to knock a dude on the turf (no pad-less one-on-one drills, apparently).
The skill guys got to play catch this summer. The linemen worked on stepping in the right spot.
“It gets monotonous, but you know it’s going to help you come August,” junior Jeremiah Sirles said.
I asked Sirles to give us a little insight into what kinds of things he focused on when he’s repeating these technique-specific drills. Over and over again. For three months straight.
Here’s his description: “Half of an offensive lineman’s game is technique — footwork, hand placement, things like that. So we’ve been working a lot with that. Working on our steps, working on getting two feet in the ground quick, working on getting that first step on that pass set, getting your hands up, getting the punch timed, everything.”
This is standard practice. Every football player across the country focused on the minor details of his craft this summer.
How much of a difference will it make for Sirles and his teammates on the Nebraska offensive line? We’ll see. They all want to be great.
The hope is that if you spend time on fundamentals during the offseason, it’s muscle memory by the time games come around.
“When stuff starts hitting the fan, you’ll be able to fall back on that training that you did in the months of May, June, July,” Sirles said. “You may not be as perfect as you were in those drills, but you’ll have that base to push through it.”
I’ll leave you with a few O-line notes to ponder…
>> A preview of the ongoing and potentially never-ending battle for the two starting tackle spots on the offensive line is here. It’s Sirles vs. Andrew Rodriguez on the right side. And Tyler Moore vs. Brent Qvale on the left. All could play this fall.
>> A shoulder injury forced Qvale to redshirt as a true freshman two years ago. Last season? It was a knee that Qvale said had “a couple little glitches.” He’s healthy now, though. The knee was “cleared up” during the offseason, he said.
>> Biggest difference for Rodriguez at tackle, as opposed to guard? Making sure he gets the proper depth as he backpedals while trying to pass protect, he said.