Trojan line shaping up

Published 3:00 am Friday, October 6, 2017

Troy running back Jordan Chunn rushed for 191 yards against LSU in Troy’s win on Saturday. On Monday, he quickly gave all the credit to his offensive line.

The Trojans entered the 2017 season with a lot of excitement on offense. They were returning all but 10 catches from the specialty guys on last year’s squad. There was one question, however: how was the offensive line going to shape up?

In the offseason, the Trojans lost their leader on the line in Antonio Garcia, who was drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots.

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The Trojans found their answer during fall camp and so far during the season’s first five games the line has featured Steven Rowzee at left tackle, Kirk Kelley at left guard, Deontae Crumitie at center, Tristan Crowder at right guard and J.L. Gaston at right tackle.

On Saturday, the offensive line played perhaps their best game against what is normally a physical LSU defense.

“We came out and our O-linemen did a great job of getting on their blocks,” Chunn said.

It’s been a season that has showed steady improvement for the Trojans. After allowing four sacks against Boise State in the opener, the Trojans have allowed just five sacks in the next three games combined.

“We knew that our offensive line was going to continue to get better,” said head coach Neal Brown. “The bodies that we are playing with…we have good size right now, they are athletic, they are taking coaching and they have made improvements as the year has gone on. They have played a lot together now so their communication is better. Our pad level is really good. We were physical…we put a priority on hitting the defensive line. We put a priority on good movement on the down guys. I thought we did. That is probably as big of a story as anything is how our offensive line performed.”

One player in particular that has seen growth is the very the man that replaced Garcia at Left tackle, Steven Rowzee. There was a lot of intrigue around Rowzee at the beginning of the year, but against the Broncos, Rowzee got penalized for multiple fall starts and struggled to get out of the gates.

Since then the senior has grown more into the position.

“He has played extremely hard,” Brown said. “One of the core things we talk about is it all matters. If you do right, good things are eventually going to happen. He has played his tail off. He has done everything that we asked him to do.”

In the game where rushing yards could be a premium, Rowzee and the offensive line led the way for the Trojans to rush for 206 yards against LSU.

“Really, we took care of what we had to take care of up front,” Rowzee said. “Our running backs, Jordan Chunn, Josh Anderson and Jamarius, they took care of the rest.”

LSU was a challenge that the offensive line was eager to take.

“I felt like it was a big challenge, and I feel we took care of it,” Rowzee said. “That’s just how I feel about that. It was a challenge for us.”