August 10, 2016

Mix-and-match line works fine

Offensive line during a game on July 29, 2016 (Photo by David Moll)

If consistency breeds success, consider the offensive line of the Red and White to be a surefire anomaly.

Having fielded five different starting combinations through six games, the big boys up front have been turning heads with their ability to maintain a high level of play. The group has surrendered a league-low eight quarterback sacks and been flagged for just four procedure calls through Week 7.

Roman Grozman, Cam Thorn and Pierre Lavertu have all started at the centre position through the first third of the season while Dan Federkeil, Ucambre Williams and Spencer Wilson have each been featured at right tackle over the past three weeks.

Not only have a total of nine Stamps offensive lineman appeared in game action thus far, all nine have also made at least one start.

Now in his third year heading up the unit, Pat DelMonaco is proud of the line’s recent outings but credits the entire offensive unit for playing their part in a successful stretch.

Offensive linemen Spencer Wilson and Pierre Lavertu playing against Winnipeg on July 21, 2016 (Photo by David Moll)

“I think our receivers do a great job of seeing when they’re hot and our quarterback (Bo Levi Mitchell) does a great job of throwing the ball when he’s hot,” said DelMonaco. “The guys understand who they’re supposed to be blocking and we’re executing right now. It’s not just the O-line, it’s everybody – (even the) running backs knowing what they’re doing. So it’s a collective effort on offence to get it done.”

In regard to the shakeups at centre, DelMonaco has been pleased with their respective performances, especially considering the added responsibilities of calling out defensive fronts and executing centre-to-quarterback exchanges.

“I think they’re doing what we ask them to do when they’re in there,” DelMonaco offered on the trio of Grozman, Thorn and Lavertu. “I think they’re allowing us to start the football play and then, after that, we’ve got a chance.”

Wilson, meanwhile, traded in his customary right guard position for right tackle in Thursday’s win over the Roughriders in light of recent injuries.

Offensive lineman Spencer Wilson in 2016 (Photo by David Moll)

“It’s what we do,” stated the local product and Henry Wise Wood High School graduate. “It’s football and injuries happen. We need to be versatile and able to step in to multiple positions and get the job done. I played four games at right tackle last year. It’s new this year, but not new for me.”

The six-year veteran and 2015 all-star has been a key piece in allowing Jerome Messam to lead the CFL in both rushing yards and yards per rush. In addition, Messam was recently named a player-of-the-week for the league after his 109-yard, one-touchdown showing against Saskatchewan.

“One-hundred-yard rushing games and zero-sack games are things that we pride ourselves on,” Wilson explained. “We’ve got a great quarterback behind us and we’ve got a great running back behind us and we’ll just keep doing our job for them.”