Trojans hope to lean on experienced offensive line

Published 6:10 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2019

In Troy’s first scrimmage of fall camp earlier this month, the Trojan offensive line left a lot to be desired. With the opener looming, new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ryan Pugh likes what he has seen out of his veteran unit.

“We really challenged them after that. Especially in the offensive line room,” Pugh said. “I think our guys accepted the challenge on offense and we were able to put two really good weeks back to back. Now it’s game week so we are excited.”

It will be an experienced and veteran group on the offensive line. The Trojans announced their starters on Monday and Austin Stidham, Kirk Kelley, Dylan Bradshaw, Tristan Carter and J.L. Gaston will fill out the line.

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Four of the five linemen were primary starters last season. Bradshaw at center is the only lineman that wasn’t a primary starter, but he still started for the Trojans last season.

“I think anytime in football, experience is good,” Pugh said. “I think that allows those guys to play more freely. Since I got here, the guys have bought in, especially in the offensive line room.”

The Trojans have a lot of new weapons on the offensive side of the ball and with weapons coming back at both the running back  and quarterback positions, the Trojans have the potential to have an electric offense. For that to happen, Pugh believes it starts with the offensive line.

“We are going to be as successful as they are up front,” Pugh said. “For us to have success on offense and be able to execute as an offense, we are going to have to be able to play well up front. I think we can be very explosive. When we execute, when we play within our offense, we want to create explosive plays. Those explosive plays allow you to sustain drives.”

Leading the offensive line will be Bradshaw at center. As mentioned earlier, Bradshaw will get his first real taste as the starter this season.

“Last year when I started, I was still a backup,” Bradshaw said. “I started against Texas State because Kirk Kelley was injured that week, so I started at guard. The bowl game, I won’t go into details, but we had to make an executive switch after the App State game. This year is big, because I’m the guy now. Going into the season, I’m the guy; hopefully leaving the season I’ll be the guy, God willing. It’s very special for me. I’ve worked really hard to get here. It’s a big moment and I’m going to embrace it.”

Bradshaw believes the communication he has with the veteran group will help his development at arguably one of the most important positions on the field.

“The center has to know what he’s doing,” Bradshaw said. “You may lose in some areas on size, but the center, in the head he’s got to be right. He’s got to know what he’s doing. He’s going to lead everybody else. When it comes to that, that’s not where they help me out. Where they help me out is when I make a call, they comprehend it well and they know exactly how to do the footwork to go with it. There’s not questions asked. Those guys are veterans. They know what to do. Most of the time, before I even say it they know what to do. That’s really nice. It speeds up the process.”

Bradshaw and the Trojans open up the season this Saturday at 5 p.m.