August 24, 2007

Offensive line starting to take shape

BOULDER, Colo. - Barring any unforeseen developments over the course of the next week, the Buffaloes' starting offensive line for the season opener will consist of Tyler Polumbus at left tackle, Wes Palazzi at left guard, Daniel Sanders at center, Devin Head at right guard and Edwin Harrison at right tackle.

The group as a whole has 47 starts under its belt, but Head has played in just three games and Palazzi, just a redshirt freshman, has yet to play a down at the college level. It is no surprise that the veterans on the line have taken on a leadership role.

"Tyler [Polumbus] has really done a great job in that area," said offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. "I would say he is probably the strongest personality on our offense right now and he understands that and he is willing to take that role.

"[Daniel] Sanders has done a really good job [in leadership] for not being a senior. He is probably the guy that has the most knowledge of our offense. Center is a natural position for somebody to be directing traffic and [the starter at that position] has to be a good communicator."

Grimes said earlier in camp that three true freshmen will likely play this season on the offensive line. Ryan Miller and Kai Maiava are currently the most likely candidates, while Mike Iltis and Blake Behrens also have a chance to see the field their first year on campus.

Miller has spent time practicing at both guard and tackle and Maiava has spent time working at both center and guard.

"You have to cross train because you don't want to be in a situation where you have to put a guy in, say at tackle, but he is your eighth best lineman," Grimes explained. "You want to get your next best guy on the field each time. Numerous guys have learned various positions and that slows them down a little bit early on but in the long run it will be better for them and better for us as a group."

Since arriving in Boulder last spring, Coach Grimes has tried to instill a high level of toughness within his group.

"Your offensive line is going to determine the toughness of your offense because those other guys will follow the guys up front," he said. "You can't expect the little skinny guys wearing sweat bands and bicep bands and all that stuff to be the ones leading the charge in the battle. So it starts with us.

"And I think ultimately our team will only be as tough as our offensive line because the defense will only be tough if they are used to someone hitting them in the mouth everyday. I would say right now it appears that we are on track to be as tough as I would like for our group to be. We're not there yet, but we're making process in that direction."

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