Do offensive linemen dream?

By Jon Roe

They don’t get the glory. They don’t get to walk into the endzone (often) and they don’t get to touch the ball. They get pushed and knocked around on basically every play. Most of them are virtually unknown to the average fan, but they’re absolutely integral to the offence of any football team.

They’re offensive lineman and they all weigh at least two Sports Editors (it’s the Gauntlet’s measuring system) and could bench press two or three.

“My high school football coach was my neighbour,” says starting right tackle Kirby Fabien. “He saw that I was a big kid and asked me if I wanted to play. I played and I liked it.”

That seems to be the standard way a lineman gets into football. The position is largely based on being big, strong and able to push guys around.

They take pleasure in flattening opposing linemen, or pancaking them, but don’t taunt or celebrate much. There might be a staredown, they might talk a bit about it after the game or mention it in the huddle, but to them, it’s “just another play.”

When they mess up, they get yelled at on the sideline. Of course, it’s usually because when a lineman messes up, the man who touches the ball the most gets knocked down.

The quarterback isn’t usually too happy about it, according to starting left tackle Paul Swiston.

“[He says,] ‘I’m never going to be your friend again.’ “

Well, at least they have each other. And the Dinos o-line has been gelling of late. In their last game, they pushed and shoved, making room for runningback Matt Walter to rack up 259 yards. In total, the team ran for 373 yards on 42 attempts, averaging a ridiculous 8.9 yards per rush.

“It felt good,” says right guard Reed Alexander. “That’s a big chunk of yards to chew up in one game. We’ve worked really hard these last couple games . . . that was pretty big.”

Behind the five big guys, the team has racked up the most rushing yards in CanadaWest so far this season. And quarterback Erik Glavic has only been sacked four times.

“It’s always real fun for the o-line to have a big running game,” says Alexander. “It’s what we want to do.”

It’s a rough job to be an offensive linemen. Rushing yards are won in the trenches on their backs. You’d think they might have defensive linemen running over them in their sleep, haunting them. Or maybe they’d dream of glory, of plowing through a group of guys for a touchdown.

“The night before the game, you just go to sleep, thinking about what you’re going to do the next day,” says centre Alex Krausnick-Groh. “You think of what you have to do and what you have to do to win the game.”

Or maybe not.

“I dream about touchdowns,” Swiston chimes in. “It’s what I do as a side job, sometimes.”

In last year’s playoffs, Swiston came in as an eligible receiver and caught two passes, one for a touchdown and one for a two-point conversion. But being the only guy to get some glory hasn’t made the rest of the linemen jealous.

“If one guy does it, we all celebrate because it feels like we’ve accomplished something because fat kids never get to touch the ball,” says Alexander.

But at least they get to pancake dudes. And that has to be at least as much fun.

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