Among the challenges CSU football coach Jim McElwain and his new coaching staff are trying to address this spring, one of the biggest is installing a new blocking scheme with the offensive line.
Judging from the combined 44 total sacks given up by the group during the teamâ€™s first two scrimmages of the spring, the offensive line has some work to do.
According to McElwain, the reason for the sloppy spring so far has been running single protection schemes on offense in order to get an offensive line, which lost two cornerstones from last year, Jake Gdowski and Paul Madsen, used to a new system in 2012.
â€œYou can sit defensively and attack a protection pretty easily,â€ McElwain said. â€œBut when you have multiple protections, itâ€™s not as easy to attack, so our biggest thing was just to get the base part of it in.â€
The new scheme being implemented by McElwain and offensive line coach Derek Frazier will attempt to turn an offensive line that ranked tied for 106th among NCAA Division I schools in sacks allowed last year into one that can protect whoever CSUâ€™s next quarterback will be.
The Rams will try to aid the offensive line throughout the spring, and likely the fall, by giving repetitions to some of the offensive linemen who walked-on to the team during open tryouts earlier this year.
â€œYou canâ€™t (help but being) impressed with people who come right in off the street and say, â€˜OK, letâ€™s go,â€™â€ Frazier said.
McElwain has also been impressed with the walk-on athletes during the spring and has said thereâ€™s a possibility all five of the linemen who walked-on will be on the roster in the fall.
â€œThereâ€™s a pretty good chance based on our numbers,â€ McElwain said. â€œWe need to have 18 to 19 (linemen) in camp anyway. Weâ€™ll evaluate that obviously, come Sunday in the staff meeting.â€
For now, the Rams will focus on the base blocking packages before implementing a whole new pass and run blocking scheme in the fall.
â€œTheyâ€™ve gotten a good overall (picture) of what the offense is gonna look like,â€ Frazier said. â€œOf course, thereâ€™s more that goes in per game plan and going in (to games) like that, but itâ€™s all about base concepts. Youâ€™ve gotta be good at what youâ€™re good at.â€
Through all the teaching and work they have put in, both McElwain and Frazier stressed in practice Wednesday that all of the players have competed well with one another, a facet of the group they believe will serve them well in the future.
â€œThe guys are working hard,â€ Frazier said. â€œTheyâ€™re giving a great effort, working on technique and just swinging their pick and swinging their axes every day.â€
Football Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.