Young linemen take opportunities
Of the 57 freshmen on IU’s roster, only two are full-time starters.
Offensive tackle Jason Spriggs and offensive guard Dan Feeney have received immediate playing time during their first year with the team.
“Every day you have an opportunity to build yourself into what you want to be, and that’s what they are doing,” offensive line Coach Greg Frey said.
They were recruited to bolster the offensive line and keep the quarterback safe. Spriggs and Feeney have started all seven games this year to do just that.
This season the line has allowed eight sacks total and only one in the last three games. The Hoosier offensive line is younger in comparison to most Big Ten lines.
Senior center Will Matte is the only upperclassman, while sophomore offensive tackle Peyton Eckert and sophomore offensive guard Bernard Taylor join the two freshmen to round it out the rest of the line.
“A young O-Line doesn’t matter because we have to protect the quarterback, if we are old or young,” Spriggs said.
These two players said they have grown since the first practices in the summer.
“I feel like I developed pretty well,” Feeney said. “Getting a lot of game time experience helps me. A lot of practice reps help me.”
Spriggs said everything has helped him improve.
“Everything and anything,” he said. “In the weight room, eating healthy, pass sets and run footwork and other offensive tackle techniques.”
Frey said growth doesn’t always occur at the same time because every player is different.
“Some guys develop in their first days, and some guys develop in their fifth year,” Frey said.
Spriggs and Feeney have had to play against Big Ten teams like Michigan State and Ohio State, both of which have been ranked this season.
“Getting Michigan State and Ohio State off the back really opened my eyes on how hard you have to play,” Spriggs said.
Feeney said MSU and OSU prepares them to face other Big Ten teams the last five games of the year.
“We are going to be facing bigger bodies the rest of the Big Ten season,” Feeney said.
Both the coaches and Matte have both helped with Spriggs and Feeney’s maturity on the line.
Feeney said Matte, in particular, has helped him.
“Matte has been a tremendous help to me,” Feeney added. “Being a fifth-year senior, he knows the tricks of the trade. He’s been around a long time and has a ton of experience.”
Five months ago these two freshmen were graduating from high school. Now, they are about to start in their eighth game and fourth Big Ten contest together.
“I didn’t come in expecting to start, but it was a goal,” Spriggs said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen this fast nor did I think it would even happen.”
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