It's all about the chemistry

Being an offensive lineman on a football team known for its running game is not always an easy job. For the Ball State offensive line, things are flowing better since there are four returning starters from last season.

Coming into the 2002 season, many have set high expectations for the Ball State offense. The offensive attack will be anchored by veteran linemen David Miller, Colin Johnson, Travis Barclay, Joel Hoffman, and the injured Kris Berry. Of those five, three players are juniors, and two are fifth-year seniors.

"We have a lot of chemistry," senior center Johnson said. "We have already went through the hard part with the losing streak. This team has come a long way. People believe that we will block well this year and that gives us a lot of confidence."

Junior starting quarterback Talmadge Hill commented on his teammates, saying it is crucial that they block well to open holes for the running game, and provide pass coverage for him.

"Without them we are nothing," Hill said. "Without those guys doing what they do, Marcus would not be a 1,000 yard rusher and I would not have been able to accomplish some of the things I have accomplished. They are experienced, they work well together, and they are talented. So it all just comes together."

The chemistry between linemen is bolstered due to the fact that Johnson, Miller, Barclay, and Hoffman spend a lot of time together off the field and away from the gridiron. The foursome live in the same apartment complex, play cards and hang out with each other frequently.

"Being on the offensive line, we all kind of have to play as one," senior left guard Miller said. "If we all know each other really well, then it makes it that much better."

The group has been nicknamed the "AKs" by assistant head coach Ted Huber. The motto is used to motivate the line and help get them pumped up before games. A few of the guys commented on what kind of pre-game rituals they normally perform.

"I do not like to get too hyped up," junior right tackle Hoffman said. "I just try and stay focused and am by myself thinking about what I need to accomplish."

"I am not much of a superstitious guy, I just try and stay loose," Miller said. "I listen to Dave Matthews. A lot of the guys listen to heavy metal, but I just try and stay as relaxed as possible."

According to line coach Huber, the unit should be able to take their play to another level during the 2002 campaign.

"Veterans are better because they can adjust to different situations," Huber said. "These guys all know what each other are thinking, and they will find better ways of doing what we need to do."


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