Winning in the trenches
With Baylor’s stunning 52-24 display of dominance over No. 1 Kansas State, one position group stands out from among the rest: the offensive line.
Every game of football is won at the line of scrimmage.
To put it lightly, Baylor dominated the trenches against Kansas State.
Baylor senior quarterback Nick Florence had ample time in the pocket to find his receivers on his way to throwing for 238 yards and two touchdowns.
Baylor running backs junior Glasco Martin and sophomore Lache Seastrunk both had career days behind the potent Baylor offensive line.
“Props go to the o-line,” Florence said.
“They did a good job on the run game, and they did a good job of protecting me. Did I get sacked? I don’t know. I don’t remember. But they did a great job. We’ve got to win up front if we’re going to win the ball game,” he said.
Seastrunk rushed for a career-high 185 yards and turned on the jets for an 80-yard touchdown run where he sliced the Kansas State Wildcats defense.
Martin, rushed for 113 yards and had a career high three touchdowns.
Martin and Seastrunk will deservedly receive credit for their performances, but let’s not forget the offensive line.
The running backs know how crucial the offensive line is to their success and after the game, both Martin and Seastrunk were quick to praise their teammates.
“You’ve got to give full credit to the offensive line,” Martin said.
“They made some very big holes that me and Lache took advantage of. We’ve got to thank them,” he said.
While the quarterback, wide receivers and running backs typically absorb the lion’s share of the glory, the offensive line is typically overlooked.
What the line does isn’t flashy or eye-popping, but it’s an intrinsic part of football.
With Spencer Drango, Cameron Kaufhold, Ivory Wade, Cyril Richardson and Troy Baker, the Bears have a massive offensive line that is loaded with talent, experience and young players with high potential.
Drango, starting left tackle, is only a redshirt freshman and he is already up to the task of protecting Florence’s blindside.
Kaufhold is an experienced senior at left guard that adds veteran savvy to the offensive line.
Wade, the starting center, has played tackle for the Bears in his career and is a viable NFL prospect.
Right tackle Baker is only a sophomore and his upside is through the roof.
The most heralded Baylor offensive lineman is certainly right guard Richardson.
In several publications, Richardson has been projected as a future first-round NFL draft pick.
Richardson is massive at 6’5” and 335 pounds.
He’s exceptionally athletic and is a true mauler at the line of scrimmage.
In run blocking, Richardson has superb technique and overpowers opposing defensive linemen.
With these five at the line of scrimmage, Baylor has an optimistic outlook for the rest of the scheduled two games of the season and possible bowl game.
The future is promising with this offensive line, and the present is rewarding too.
On Saturday against the best team in college football, the Bears outmuscled the Wildcats and imposed their will.
They dictated the flow of the game and they allowed the offense to get into a rhythm.
“Like we always say, it always starts up front,” Richardson said.
“The physicality of the game starts up front. It’s a trenches game for everybody. Once everything in the front line gets started, once we win the front line, it’s the game. We showed everybody that we could run the ball this time. We showed them that our passing was all right, too.”
Baylor also had a homerun shot with the rushing game with Seastrunk’s 80-yard touchdown scamper.
The offensive line was particularly fired up about that explosive play.
“It’s always fun to run like that,” Richardson said.
“Especially with Lache and the big gains,” he said. “We’re always talking him up, always helping him out. It’s real rewarding to run up on somebody like that. We played tough, physical and we executed. That’s basically what we always do. We say we have to focus small, be consistent and be physical, so that’s what we’ve got to do. We also knew who we are, so we’ve just got to play our game.”
Seastrunk was also appreciative of how bruising the offensive line played, and he had high praise for the unit after the game.
“Exceptional,” Seastrunk said. “They were just knocking people over, creating holes for me to run through. That’s how the game is supposed to be played.”
Now, 10 games into the season, the Bears are coming together as an offensive unit and the offensive line is the major reason for the improvement of Baylor down the stretch this season.
With Baylor controlling the line of scrimmage and understanding how to manhandle their opponents, the physical style of football should keep producing wins.