LOGAN – After sophomore quarterback Darrell Garretson threw an 11-yard touchdown pass in Tuesday night’s scrimmage, senior offensive lineman Kevin Whimpey could be heard yelling some friendly trash talk from the sideline, reminding the No. 1 defense that the No. 2 offense just scored on them.
Whimpey, a 6-foot 5-inch, 295 pound senior with a beard that could rival anyone on last year’s Boston Red Sox squad, was just one of five veterans last season that made up one of the most experienced offensive lines in the Mountain West. This year he is the team’s only returning starter in that position.
“I think that we were really close, our starting five last year,” Whimpey said. “I mean we were basically brothers. We were close. We were friends off the field.”
Head Coach Matt Wells acknowledged that the offensive line was one of the groups that lost the most during the offseason and said it is essential that the new guys learn pre-snap communication during fall camp.
“Sometimes out there on a big picture it looks like the flood gates opened up on the offensive line when really just one call affected three positions,” he said.
Communication and unity are two things that the offensive linemen had last season. Whimpey understands that communication between the linemen will again be vital to the team’s success, and he hasn’t taken it lightly. He said the offensive line met every Wednesday throughout spring ball and over the summer, not to lift or practice, but to build needed chemistry.
“One day we went to Texas Roadhouse. Another day we went boating,” he said. “So we’ve been doing things. Whether you’re first string, second string or third team, we’ve been finding ways to get together off the field and spend some time together.”
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton – the guy the offensive line is dedicated to protect – has noticed the efforts.
“They’ve been working tremendously hard for the past six months,” he said. “They’re more like a family than anything else. They have their little fights, but it’s not out of anger. It’s out of growth. They’re continuing to grow every day. I see more hope out of it than anything else.”
In addition to working on team unity, Whimpey said his group has also spent hours on the whiteboard as well as breaking down video – something that he says will also help with communication.
“If I understand the pass protection scheme, not just as an offensive tackle, but for the entire offensive lineman from left tackle to right tackle and everything in-between, then we really won’t have to communicate when we go into Tennessee,” he said. “Whether there’s 109,000 or 800,000 people there, if we know our offense inside and out we’ll be able to block without talking.”