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Spring Season: Offensive Line and Tight Ends

It's not exactly a secret that the foundation of Lehigh's offense in the Andy Coen era is an exceptional pass blocking unit.

With graduates from this unit like OL Keith Schauder, OL A.J. Hood, OL Troy McKenna, C Matt Lippincott and OL Will Rackley, who earns his paycheck on the offensive line of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, it's clear that offensive line is always a priority for Coen and offensive line coach Brett Sawyer.

This year sees Lippincott and Hood graduate, but also sees a lot of excitement with a lot of returning starting talent - including a bookend tackle in senior OL Ned Daryoush.

This spring, a slew of injuries has meant that a lot of the names we might expect to see in August won't be on the field this Saturday.

Senior TE Tyler Coyle, senior TE Dylan Colgate, senior OL Wenner Nunes, sophomore OL Micah Tennant, junior OL Steve Camasta and junior OL Ryan James have all been held out to injury.

That leaves less than a two-deep's worth of linemen on the spring roster.

With all the players out, that has meant the presence of starters like Daryoush, senior OL Shane Rugg and junior OL Terez Owens has been even more important, allowing the younger players work with some starters and to have the coaching staff see some of the younger faces.

"Spring football is a huge learning period for everyone," Owens told me.  "It is a pivotal time for everyone refine their game and improve for the upcoming season. This spring has been just that. With a lot of fresh young talent, it is a great chance for them to step up to the challenge.  They have gotten an enormous amount of reps this spring and it is good preparation for the season as well."

Daryoush, who hasn't missed a game at left tackle the last two years, is the foundation on which the line is based.

"As an O-Line as a whole it is great that we have leaders like Ned and Shane Rugg both on and off the field," Owens said.

His position coach, Brett Sawyer, agrees.

"He is one of the hardest workers we have ever had here, on and off the field," he said to me.  "He has also been extremely productive in games, was is an All-Patriot League player.  So this makes him an outstanding 'lead by example' player.  More guys need to be like him."

Their presence allowed junior OL Matt Ford. sophomore OL Brandon Short and sophomore OL Zach Duffy to get valuable time this spring working alongside these starters who paved the way for Lehigh's first 1,000 yard rusher in 11 years, RB Keith Sherman, last season.

"Spring is the time where the O-Line starts forming bonds and working well together out there," Owens told me.  "Coach Sawyer has been great in this time period. He always has an open door policy to come in and watch film. He truly wants us to become students of the game."

That time might be why there's a lot of excitement out there on this offensive line.

"From the production level of this spring, I am very excited for this summer," Owens said.  "Everyone is hungry and we all have something to prove. Everyone is itching to get in the weight room and to start training this summer."

Tight end is another position where injuries have shuffled the depth chart, but in the absence of Coyle and Colgate, junior TE Chris Ruhl and sophomore TE Zach Bucklin have stepped up and done some good things, according to coach Coen.

"Better to have injuries now than in August," Coen told me.  "Those who have practiced have certainly improved and I look forward to getting back to work with the full group in August."

LFN's Take on the Spring Two Deep:

1st (OL): OL Ned Daryoush, OL Terez Owens, C Brandon Short, OL Shane Rugg, OL Matt Ford
2nd (OL): OL Zach Duffy, OL Evan Sweeney, OL Patrick Donohoe, OL Matt Cohen

1st (TE): TE Max Anderson, TE Chris Ruhl, TE Zach Bucklin


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