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September 7, 2011Terry McDaniel made his debut at center this past Saturday against Texas State and did a pretty good job.
Still, McDaniel will most likely lose the starting job at center once senior Justin Keown returns from a knee injury. Keown, who started at tackle last season, was slated to be the Red Raiders' lead center this year as well.
But McDaniel, a junior, is a part of an offensive line that performed well Saturday, and he took second-year right guard starter Deveric Gallington to the wire in the battle for Gallington's position. Could a good run as starting center propel McDaniel to another starting spot on the line once Keown gets back?
"We've got some good guys up there," McDaniel said. "Coach (Matt) Moore tells me I'm going to play, just probably not with the title 'starter.' Every day I just come out here and do the best I can with my ability and just compete every day. I mean, I want to battle people and I want to make them better. But yeah, I'll try to get that starting spot somewhere else."
The jury is still out on whether McDaniel will start this season or not once Keown returns to snap but McDaniel has shown a good talent for a position he never really had any experience at before.
"He did a good job," head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "You've got to be nervous never going and playing center much before, playing your first game. We pushed him hard, asked him to do a whole lot. The main thing though, we didn't have one bad snap and that's just him persevering.
"Only being at it two weeks, kind of taking abuse from the nose guard and everybody's attacking him and trying to make plays and making calls at the same time - he got better in two weeks but he'll have to continue getting better as we go throughout this schedule."
Even McDaniel knows after watching Saturday's game film that there are things he can do better in the New Mexico game. It's been quite a transition in an extremely short amount of time.
McDaniel has to give the calls to the rest of the offensive line, snap the ball and snap it off quickly enough that he's ready to block the first guy trying to come through the 'A' gap.
"I used to always play left tackle," McDaniel said. "Then they moved me to guard a little bit and then just threw me at center. It's just different. You have to call the fronts and everything, make sure everybody knows what they're doing and then most importantly you've got to get the snap off and get it to the quarterback.
"Most people think snapping is easy but it's really not."
The great thing from an offensive line standpoint is McDaniel now has significant experience at tackle, guard and center. That makes him the top choice to start should any offensive lineman go down from this point onward.
"I've been around here for four years now," McDaniel said. "I pretty much know everything now. I can play any position, not a problem. This is my first time playing center, took me a day or two, but I think I've figured out the basics and understanding all the positions will help me better understand the one I'm sent in to go play."