Football notebook: Offensive line taking shape

Augest 15, 2013, Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA – Senior offense lineman Luis Polanco, middle, talks with senior center Sean Conway, right, during practice on Thursday Aug. 15, 2013. | Photo Credit: JEFF BROWN/ WKU Herald

Lucas Aulbach

Led by returning starting seniors Luis Polanco and Sean Conway, the offensive line will play a big role in WKU’s success on the field this season.

Conway, WKU’s starting center, said he’s seen a lot of positive signs from his fellow linemen during the first two weeks of camp.

“Camp is a grind, but we’re up for the challenge,” Conway said after Thursday’s afternoon practice. “It’s the same every year. You’ve got to get through these hard times and get better so we can beat UK.”

WKU will face Kentucky in Nashville to open the season on Aug. 31.

The Toppers were on the field twice on Thursday – they practiced from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and were back at it from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. later on in the day.

The line is working under offensive line coach Neil Callaway, who is in his first season at WKU.

Conway said Callaway, who spent 2007-11 as head coach at Alabama-Birmingham, brings a lot to the table for the Toppers.

“He’s a great coach, a great guy,” Conway said. “He knows a lot about the offense.”

Callaway said the biggest change he has brought to the line has been through communication. The Topper linemen are using different phrases and verbs to get the point of the playbook across.

“It’s like learning a new language,” Callaway said. “That’s the biggest change.”

Polanco looks to lead offensive line

Polanco was named a team captain by his teammates earlier this summer, and he said he’s taking his role as a leader seriously.

“There has been a lot of responsibility put on me now,” he said. “I feel like I have to step up from what I have been to now. My role is to be there for everybody else and for the rest of the team, for the guys and just be a team player.”

Polanco, a redshirt senior from Tampa, Fla., started at left guard in 11 games for WKU last season.

Callaway said Polanco’s hard work over the summer has helped him gain a strong reputation among his teammates.

“Luis is probably the most energetic of the group,” Callaway said. “He’s a guy that’s hard-working. I think if you would have asked the team why they voted him (as a captain), I think that would be it probably, because of his work ethic and the way he worked  over the summer.”

Offensive line looks to support running game

One of the biggest goals for an offensive line is to block out defenders to make holes in the line for running backs to run through.

Many members of the WKU offensive line believe they are also benefiting from a quality group of running backs.

Polanco said senior running back Antonio Andrews, senior fullback Kadeem Jones, and the rest of the Topper stable bring energy to the offense.

“We feel like we can have a successful year and for us to have that, we have to all come together as team – receivers, running backs, offensive linemen, and tight ends,” he said.