Mixture of youth, experience on Maine offensive line

Saturday’s game between Maine and FIU is at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 4:05 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - Maine’s starting offensive line against Florida International will include two graduate students, two sophomores, and a redshirt freshman.

Saturday’s game between Maine and FIU is at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+
Saturday’s game between Maine and FIU is at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+(WABI)

“I think our strength is our physicality. We’ve worked on low pad level, keeping our hands inside, striking the defender, and displacing people off the line of scrimmage. I think people are going to see that on TV when we play FIU: how we’re displacing the line of scrimmage. We’ve worked a lot on that, and also our pass protection is greatly improved. We’re working on sets, strikes, and just keeping defenders in front of us instead of behind us and sacking our quarterback. We have fast feet,” said Nick Cruji, redshirt freshman offensive lineman.

The young and experienced players have come together to form a cohesive unit during the offseason.

“It’s been a great time, to be honest. We do everything together. We hang out. We eat lunch with each other. We hang out in the dorm rooms after practice at night. Everybody just loves being around each other,” said Max Lovblad, graduate offensive lineman.

“It’s been rewarding to see them work hard, come out here, and be diligent every day. Coach Dave Bucar has done a great job with these guys getting them ready to play and the attitude where it needs to be. These are tough guys who are ready to compete for the entirety of a game,” said Jordan Stevens, head coach.

The Black Bears will look to control the line of scrimmage against the Panthers.

“They say defense wins championships. But at the end of the day, if the offensive line is just dominating, that offense is moving the ball like crazy. If there’s no pressure on the quarterback, there’s no tackles for loss, we’re going five, six, seven yards for every carry, I think that’s what winning football is,” said Joe Horn, sophomore offensive lineman.

No matter how old they are, the offensive linemen are ready to make a statement.

“They’re ready to play. They’re excited about being here and coming out and competing. I think no matter what age they are, older or younger guys, I think they’re ready to play,” said Stevens.

“There’s a lot to prove. Being a younger guy, I just take the mentality every day to just show up and put the work in. I know if I do that, I’ll perform on Saturdays. There’s a lot riding on these young guys, but we can handle it,” said Cruji.

The first test is against a Panthers front that had two sacks and allowed 114 rushing yards in a 22-17 loss to Louisiana Tech last week.

Saturday’s game between Maine and FIU is at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+.