Offensive line helps Lions have No. 1 offense


File Photo/The Lion's Roar

The offensive line has allowed the least amount of sacks in the Southland Conference for the 2019 regular season. The Lions finished the 2019 regular season with 6,416 yards in total offense and managed to have the number one scoring offense in the Southland Conference with 493 points on the season.

The Lions finished the 2019 regular season with the first ranked overall offense in the Southland Conference for the first time under Frank Scelfo’s regime.

Offensive line coach Andrew Hopp shared that he feels all areas of the team have excelled this season and the players on the offensive line are playing very well this season.

“Our guys have performed at a high level all year,” said Hopp. “I told them at the beginning of the season that we should be playing our best football at the end of the season and I really believe that’s the case.”

Hopp explained that the team has created several internal competitions to make the team work harder.

“Our guys are currently competing for the Knockdown Trophy,” shared Hopp. “At the end of the year, myself and Coach Joe Scelfo will tally up all the knockdown blocks that each OL has and whoever has the highest total will get the trophy. We also post on Twitter the ‘finish of the week,’ which is a video clip of the nastiest block that one of the guys has after a win. It’s become pretty competitive and has helped create an attitude among the guys. Every week, each one of them is striving toward winning that award.”

Throughout the course of the season, there are several areas where Hopp feels the offensive line has improved.

“They’ve really improved across the board,” said Hopp. “Our defense has done such a great job giving us tough looks in practice where when we show up to the game it just makes them see everything so much better. Coach Scelfo uses the mantra ‘Iron sharpens Iron’ and that truly is the case when we go against the defense every day in practice.”

Hopp elaborated further on the offensive line’s performance and shared the attitude among each of the players.

“It would be hard for me to single out one guy that has outperformed the others,” explained Hopp. “It is such a competitive group where these guys push each other every day to be great. They hold each other accountable and push each other to be the best offensive lineman they can be. They take a lot of pride in that, and they know that the game is won upfront.”

The players on the offensive line have become a tight-knit group according to Hopp, which he feels greatly improves their performance on the field.

“All five have to be on the same page all the time,” said Hopp. “So much communication goes on before the ball is snapped to make sure everyone is on the same page. Our center, Drew Jones, does a great job of getting everyone on that page every play.”

Hopp feels that offensive linemen are under-appreciated and unlike other positions, the fans rarely see the hard work that they perform.

“It takes a very selfless individual to play the position,” shared Hopp. “There’s no stats or glory. When one of them messes up, the whole crowd can usually tell. When a running back makes a big play or the quarterback makes a big throw, most fans don’t see the hard work up front that took place to get the job done. Our guys could care less about any of that, and that’s what makes them great. They play for the man next to them. They sacrifice themselves every play to put the team in a position to succeed.”

The Lions will take on the University of Montana on Dec. 7 in Missoula, Mont. in the second round of the FCS playoffs. If Southeastern defeats Montana, the Lions will go on to face the winner of the Weber State University versus Kennesaw State University game.