August 21, 2006

The Dancing Bear breaks the line down

His teammates call him the "Dancing Bear", but you can just call him the best offensive lineman in college football. As senior Justin Blalock returns for his senior season in 2006, he does so with expectations of winning All-America honors and another national championship. sat down with Blalock this weekend and talked about the changes in the offensive line and his expectations for the group this year.

Q: Is it strange that after last year's success with the offensive line, you now have people questioning how good this group will be, even if you essentially return four starters?

A: I don't think it's strange. I think it's natural. We lost four or five seniors, two of which were starters. It's only natural to assume that at least the depth won't be there. The talent is certainly there with the first seven or eight guys. I think it's very comparable to last year's (group) as a matter of fact. We'll have five guys that will start the game, but we might have seven or eight guys that log the same amount of minutes.

Q: Everyone knows what you can do. Same thing with Lyle Sendlein, Kasey Studdard and Tony Hills. What about Cedrick Dockey and Adam Ulatoski? What is the scouting report on the players that have earned new roles in the offensive line this year? Where do these guys fit in?

A: I'm also very anxious to see for myself. Regardless of how many snaps you get in practice, when the lights come on it's going to be a little bit different. I really feel like if those guys can translate the way they have worked in the off-season and the dedication to learn the playbook that they've put in and the work in practice that we've done so far, into the game, I really feel confident that as this season progresses we'll be able to play at a high level like we did last year, regardless of the combination of five guys that is in there. When I'm in at tackle and Cedrick is in at guard, I think what he does well is that he's a big guy like me. He's a big mauler. He'll run people over sometimes. He's also pretty athletic. I'm not ready to say he's athletic as me or anything (laughs). He's a big guy that can move his feet as well. Both with passing and running, there's no liability there. When I'm at guard and Adam is at tackle - he's pure and simple a pass protector. He's 6-7 and 300-whatever pounds. He's got a nasty streak as well. I really don't feel like we lose anything with either combination of the starting five.

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