TU's vaunted offensive and defensive lines make each other better when squaring off in practice
BY MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2012
10/25/12 at 4:09 AM
In Brian DeShane's freshman season, the University of Tulsa gave up 46 sacks to opposing teams.
This year, the senior guard and his fellow offensive linemen have only allowed four sacks through eight games.
Equally as impressive, the defense has amassed 35 sacks.
"I think there's a lot that goes into that," said TU head coach Bill Blankenship. "Protection I think is a big deal. I think the quarterbacks have done a good job of throwing the ball away when they get into trouble. Those are things you just try to work on and the way our defense has been playing and generating sacks is just huge."
An improved running game and smart play are other reasons for the line's low sack total, Blankenship said.
"We're trying to not put ourselves into bad situations with protections. I think our quarterbacks have done a good job and honestly give a lot of credit to coach Denver Johnson," he said. "I think those guys have been coached very well and they make it a point of emphasis. It's a big deal. They work on blitzes every day. There's a lot of extra time spent on trying to pick up the blitzes."
The fact that the Hurricane offensive line that's given up so few sacks gets to practice with a defense that's so sack-happy creates a symbiotic relationship where both units feed off each other.
"When you work against each other every day, I think the better the offensive line works it makes it harder on the defense and makes their skills better. The better we see the defensive skills and pass rush every day, the more it makes us better on offense," Blankenship said. "I think we've helped each other because every day they work on the pass rush together."
Freshman defensive end Derrick Alexander agreed.
"Everything we try to send at them they end up picking up. Getting the chance to go good-on-good helps us on game day," he said.
He added that defensive coaches' approach is helping them be more aggressive.
"Credit that to our coaches, working different pass rush drills every day and just an overemphasis of getting to the quarterback," Alexander said. "In everything we do we emphasize getting to the quarterback, so that's paying off."
DeShane credits the offensive line's preparation for the success it has had so far this season.
"We do drills every day, going over all the different types of situations that could happen whenever you're in a pass rush," he said.
There's also a mentality the O-line has of taking care of the quarterback.
"It's the pride factor of keeping Cody (Green) or Kalen (Henderson), whichever one's in there, keeping them clean," he said. "We've been able to do that and our defense has been able to get some, so it's definitely working on both sides."
11:21 a.m. Nov. 3
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Original Print Headline: Competition on the lines
Mike Averill 918-581-8489
TU's Brian DeShane celebrates after Saturday's win over Rice. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World