North Texas Daily

Offensive line setting tone for UNT football team’s success

Offensive line setting tone for UNT football team’s success

October 24
23:42 2012

Tyler Owens / Senior Staff Writer

Though it gets very little recognition from the fans or record books, the Mean Green’s offensive line has quietly become one of the best in all of college football this season.

Through the first seven games of the football season, the team has only given up a total of three sacks. That’s good for the second-fewest sacks in the NCAA.

If the statistics are looked at more closely, all of those sacks given up by the Mean Green came in week three against the now-No. 3 Kansas State Wildcats. That means in six of its seven games, including one against the renowned Louisiana State University defense, the offensive line has not allowed a single sack.

The team said that much of its success comes from hard work, communication and knowledge of the game.

“We’re five guys, but you kind of have to play as one person,” senior offensive lineman Coleman Feeley said.  “Our center, [senior Aaron] Fortenberry, who controls most of the calls, is really good at identifying who’s coming, who’s not, who’s bluffing, things like that. So knowledge of the game is the biggest contributor.”

The rest of its success can be attributed to the dedication of offensive line coach Mike Simmonds.

“Our offensive line coach is in there all day, every day, grinding schemes and stuff like that,” Feeley said. “We take pride in trying to be the strongest unit of the team.”

With its starters – Fortenberry and sophomores Cyril Lemon, Antonio Johnson and Mason Y’Barbo – and contributors Feeley, junior LaChris Anyiam and any other lineman that steps in and gets in the way of the pass rush, the line has a lot of on-field experience during its time at UNT.

It has put together an impressive resumé going up against the highly ranked defenses of teams like LSU and the University of Alabama in the past two years.

“We’ve all had a year to gel together, and more chemistry has been built,” Fortenberry said. “We practice hard no matter who it is [we are playing].”

Redshirt junior quarterback Derek Thompson said he is thankful for the help of his offensive line.

“They put me in very good situations this year,” he said. “We have five guys that I trust with my whole life. I know each time I drop back that I’m going to be protected.”

While the offensive line does its job week in and week out, the lack of sacks allowed cannot be solely contributed to the linemen themselves.

“It’s a whole group effort, it’s not just the offensive line,” offensive coordinator Mike Canales said. “It’s the running backs that do a great job in pass protection. It’s the quarterback getting rid of the ball when he needs to.”

A lot of the linemen are leaders of the team as well on and off the field.

Feeley said that Fortenberry is a voted captain of the team, and Y’Barbo enjoys getting the team pumped up before a game. Senior offensive lineman Nicolas Summerfield carries the Mean Green family flag out of the locker room before games, while Lemon leads the team on the field by his hard-nosed performance.

Fans may only hear the offensive linemen’s names whenever they allow a sack, but the lack of love is not going to hurt the big men’s feelings.

“Our success comes from seeing [the running backs] break off and see their backs running down the field for a touchdown,” Fortenberry said. “That’s where we get our excitement. It’s really a no-glory job, but somebody’s got to do it, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job.”

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