click here for original content ------------------------------------ USU experienced at offensive line
By Wade Denniston | Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 12:30 am
Editor’s note: This is the fourth in an eight-part series previewing Utah State’s football team by position. Next: Running backs.
Utah State center Tyler Larsen and guard Jaime Markoslian, far right, will help anchor an Aggie offensive line that returns three starters from a unit that performed well in 2011. Larsen is widely regarded as one of the best collegiate centers in the nation. (John Zsiray/Herald Journal)
You don’t hear their names very often and they rarely speak to the media following games.
But that doesn’t mean the guys up front aren’t important to the football team.
The offensive line is extremely important and Utah State head coach Gary Andersen is well aware of that fact.
“They don’t get talked about a lot, but I feel very good about our first five offensive linemen and it all starts with Tyler (Larsen) as our center,” Andersen said. “He’s done a tremendous job, but we need to stay healthy there, and we need to have some young guys step up.”
Larsen is as good as they come at center. Not only is he arguably the best at his position in the Western Athletic Conference, but he’s also one of the best in the nation.
The fact Larsen is on the preseason Rimington Trophy watch list for the second consecutive season proves that.
Not only does Larsen have high expectations for the offensive line group, but he also has lofty goals for himself.
“I’d really, really like to make WAC all-conference again, first team,” Larsen said. “With all these watch lists that I’m on, I’d like to at least get to the finals in one of them. Maybe some type of all-American honor — honorable mention, second team or something. But, all-American is definitely on top of that list.”
Besides Larsen, other returning starters on the O-line include senior right tackle Oscar Molina-Sanchez and junior right guard Eric Schultz.
Molina-Sanchez has started 20 games, including 13 in a row, for the Aggies, while Schultz has made 19 consecutive starts.
Joining this group of veterans is junior guard Jaime Markosian, who played all 13 games last season at both guard and tackle.
Other players on the O-line with experience in the program include sophomores Josh Larmay and Bryce Walker, and freshmen Taani Fisilau and Jorden Mattinson, who both redshirted in 2011. Junior Kyle Whimpey was on the team, but did not play.
Another player who could figure into the mix is true freshman Logan Molohifo’ou, who participated in spring practice after returning from an LDS Church Mission.
“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back, so we’ve got a lot of experience and we’re looking good,” Larsen said. “We’ve got a mentality that we haven’t had before. We’re very confident with the offensive line we have.”
Andersen and the Aggies are also glad to have Joe Summers, a Bear River product that transferred to USU from Snow College.
“Joe Summers has three years left,” Andersen said. “It was great to get him from Snow College. He’s done a great job since he’s been here. He’s married and older and is a hard worker.
“... We’ve got Jake Simonich and Daquan Vandross, who you don’t know yet. ... I feel better about the depth there, but it’s still mildly concerning.”
Walker hasn’t participated in fall camp due to a broken leg.
“It’s a big blow,” Larsen said. “If we lose anyone on the O-line right now it’s a big blow because our depth, just because we’re all so experienced, we know everything.
“... Bryce was in there in the mix. He was doing a great job, showing improvement.”