For the University of West Georgia football team, the offensive line blocks for the top offense in the Gulf South Conference and takes pride in its work.
“We take a lot of pride in it when the coaches rely on the offensive line to run the ball as much as we do. To be successful in running the ball and then we we have to pass it, we’re able to block then, too. We take a lot of pride in our run-blocking,” senior center Jordan Ritchey said.
With just 12 seniors listed on the UWG roster, overall five of them play on the offensive line — including tight ends — and out of the four senior starters, three are offensive linemen.
With that experience of Ritchey, Ukandu Emeonye and tight end Daniel Yousiff, there is a lot expected out of the group.
“We know we’re a veteran group — we have two seniors and three juniors. We all know how to work well together. We also take pride in playing for others, not just playing for ourselves. We work for our running backs to rush for 250 yards and we give up no sacks. We take pride in playing for others and playing for the team because we get the game started,” left guard William Wright said.
The UWG linemen and coaches aren’t the only ones taking notice of the work they do up front. The quarterbacks and running backs have appreciated the blocking they have been getting three games into the season.
“It’s a good feeling just to have your coach come to this unit and say, ‘We’re depending on you today. We’re going to pound it.’ It’s also a good feeling for it to be appreciated by the skill guys, the running backs and the quarterbacks. They actually got us all T-shirts from the first three games of us doing so well and blocking for them so well. It feels good that they appreciate us,” said Emeonye, who starts at right guard.
The line has also helped establish some pride in the offense as a whole. The offense has scored at least 37 points in every game this season and is averaging more than 43 points per game. Last year, the Wolves only had three games all season of 30 or more points and averaged 23.6 points per game.
“I think over the past few seasons, we’ve had good defenses and our offense has kind of been suspect. Last year against [Arkansas-]Monticello, we didn’t even score an offensive point, but we won the game thanks to the defense. It just feels good — and we have a sense of pride this year — knowing we can bail the defense out and keep the other team’s offense off the field,” noted starting left tackle Brandon White.
While the numbers are up this season, there is still a lot of football to be played. Starting with the conference opener on Saturday against the No. 19 team in the country — West Alabama — and the top defensive unit in the GSC.
“We’ve been real pleased and happy with them. Long ways to go still and a lot of football games to go, but they’ve gelled into a pretty good unit and they’re a dependable front right now,” UWG coach Daryl Dickey said. “They’ve played a lot of football together. They have the experience, know what it takes to compete daily on the practice field and also on Saturday.”