With high sack total, Rutgers' offensive line takes on more responsibility
Despite — or perhaps resulting from — Rutgers' 118th sacks allowed ranking, offensive coordinator Ron Prince has asked the Scarlet Knights' offensive line to pass protect more without help from backs or tight ends, guard Antwan Lowery said Tuesday.
"Coach Prince, being a former offensive line guy, he stressed when he first got here that we're not going to get babied anymore," Lowery said. "It's big-boy football. He put a lot of pressure on the front five."
That includes making more protection calls at the line of scrimmage, previously an almost exclusive responsibility of the quarterback. Rutgers has struggled in the process, averaging 3.67 sacks allowed per game.
|Kyle Flood's offensive line play has dipped|
in pass protection in Year 2. (AP photo)
It tied last year's total (11) in five games.
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"We have to work hard at it," Lowery said. "Guys have to get back to getting on the same page, communicating. Most of our sacks came from not communicating with each other."
Rutgers is on pace to allow 44 sacks this season, its worst since 2010, when it gave up 61. Lowery, a fifth-year senior, and Andre Civil are the team's only holdovers.
His up-and-down career fluctuated with Rutgers' sack numbers. He started a combined seven games between 2010 and 2011 but appeared in twice as many games as Rutgers yearned for any chemistry.
Lowery was an All-Big East First Team selection a year ago, starting all 13 games and opting against forgoing his senior season for the NFL Draft. His appearances this season have been slim.
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He has rotated with redshirt freshman Chris Muller at right guard. Injuries and poor interior pass protection have gotten Lowery, dealing with a healing ankle of his own, another chance.
"It's different, but I had to get adjusted to the role and just continue to prepare and stay ready," Lowery said. "When I do get that tap, just go in and play football and not be worried about making mistakes because I wasn't ready."