Training Days: Offensive line relying on youth and experience

Senior center Sean Conway (65) prepares to snap the ball during WKU’s 52-20 loss to Tennessee on Sept. 7.

Elliott Pratt

WKU’s offensive line has gone through a few more changes during fall camp than it probably would have liked.

The Toppers were without redshirt sophomore center Max Halpin and senior tackle Cameron Clemmons to injury at some point during the first week of camp.

Clemmons and Halpin returned to practice in full pads on Tuesday. 

“We’ve had some depth issues,” offensive line coach Neil Calloway said after practice on Tuesday. “We’ve had some guys that have missed some work for different reasons and what not. We got most of the guys back now. I think as a group they’re coming on and doing some good things.

“Obviously we got a lot to learn as far as evaluating who’s doing what and the different combinations. But I’ve been pleased with their effort and attitude for the most part.”

Halpin, Clemmons and redshirt sophomores Forrest Lamp and Darrell Williams are the three returning starters to an offensive line that helped guide the offense to 196.8 rushing yards per game last year. 

Clemmons leads the line with 31 career starts and Halpin took over at center last year after long-time starter Sean Conway’s season ended early to injury. 

Lamp started all 12 games last season, starting at right guard before moving to left tackle in the last eight games. 

The veterans welcome redshirt freshman Brandon Ray to the line at left guard. 

Ray, a 6-foot-3-inch, 285 lineman from Madison, Ala., has the versatility to play at different positions if called upon and got that experience while Halpin was inactive.

We had to move Brandon Ray to center,” Cassity said. “Brandon can play both guard and center. I think he’s done good. Justin Martinez has come on and done some nice things. We still need a couple more of them to come one.”

Martinez, a 6-foot-3-inch, 275 pound redshirt freshmen, did not practice on Tuesday. 

Having the younger core of players get experience early while the veterans settle into their second year in the offensive scheme gives the linemen plenty of optimism for 2014.

“We’ve all worked together before,” Halpin said. “Me, Forrest, Cam and  (Darrell Williams), we’ve all been on the O-line, so we have chemistry together, so that’s a big strength.”

We all know the offense a lot better than last year, we all know the calls, we all know how to work against the defense, so that’s a good deal.”