O-line’s got the quarterback’s back

Rodger Saffold appears to be nonplussed.

This is the fourth in a series on IU football by position.

PROJECTED STARTERS: LT Rodger Saffold, 6-5, 306, Jr.; LG Pete Saxon, 6-6, 310, Jr.; C Alex Perry, 6-7, 300, So.; RG Cody Faulkner, 6-5, 315, So.; RG Mike Stark, 6-7, 300, So.

STARTERS LOST: C Ben Wyss (started 11 games), RG/C John Sandberg (started 13 games), RT Charlie Emerson (started 10 games).

KEY RESERVES: LG Jarrod Smith, 6-4, 300, So.; LT Andrew McDonald, 6-5, 280, Fr.; RT Dennis Zeigler, 6-7, 350, Fr.

2007 REVIEW: Hobbled by injuries, the line held together to allow Kellen Lewis to have one of the most prolific seasons at QB in IU history. It also became more assertive at blocking for the backs late in the year, as Indiana ran for 219 yards on the way to reclaiming the Old Oaken Bucket.

2008 OUTLOOK: Saffold and Saxon are solid and should protect Lewis or Ben Chappell’s blind side, provided they can be healthy. They’ve been limited in camp but would be able to play if needed. Stark saw significant time last year and has shown signs of rapid growth during camp. Perry is tall for a center, and he’s still learning to deal with low-to-the-ground defensive tackles. Coach Bobby Johnson is looking for his unit to finish their blocks, especially on running plays. “It’s an attitude out of them that I want to see,” he said. Johnson has been impressed with several of his true freshmen but hopes that he has enough depth to redshirt them.

STAT THAT MATTERS: The Hoosiers had only one running back gain more than 100 yards last year (Marcus Thigpen had 140 against Purdue) while QB Kellen Lewis led the team in rushing five times.

DID YOU KNOW? In Terry Hoeppner’s first season at IU, the five starters on the offensive line averaged just over 6-foot-2 and 314 pounds. Hoeppner made an effort to recruit taller, more athletic players for the line. This year’s projected starting five averages 6-foot-6 and 306 pounds.

QUOTABLE: “I’m happy for how the kids because they’ve dealt with that so well. That nickname was a large burden for those kids. They could have let the expectations crush them, but they didn’t.” Johnson on the 2006 OL recruits, dubbed the “Seven Blocks of Limestone” by Hoeppner.

Q&A WITH RODGER SAFFOLD

What’s your major and how did you pick it?

I’m in SPEA’s Business Management program. It kind of found me. I took a lot of classes that I liked cause I was working with people. And I took a lot of business classes that, obviously, I enjoyed. So I picked that.

What’s been your best class at IU so far?

Business X100 (Introduction to Business) with one of my favorite teachers, Myron (Kanning). He was real good to us. He helped us out a lot. He knew we were tired after practice and he would give us extra help. It was just a fun class. We played a lot of games, there were prizes and he basically just wanted everyone to get a good grade.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Bloomington and why?

Chinese buffets, especially the one on the East side. General Tso’s chicken is my favorite. If you don’t like that, I don’t even know what’s wrong with you. (Saffold goes for four full plates whenever he’s at the buffet.)

What’s your game-day ritual? Any superstitions?

Basically all I do is pray for my teammates. After that I try to sit and focus in on what I have to do for the game. It’s almost like I’m by myself because I’m just focusing in.

What’s one thing you want to do better this year?

The one thing I want to do is just go beyond my potential, but obviously it’s going to take a lot of work during the season.

6 comments

  1. Hey HT sports guys, great football preview series!

    Question, can you publish the remaining practice schedule?

    Thanks!

  2. mbell,

    The team will practice later today at Memorial Stadium.

    We’re not sure of the schedule for next week yet, but I will try to remember to post it here once we find out.

  3. 4 plates? That’s it. To be honest I’m dissapointed. I was about half their weight and I could put down 3 easy when I was in Bloomington.

  4. Thanks sports writers for these previews! They’re great to read. I can’t wait for this season. I just want to see us continue to keep improving.

  5. Anyone know why A.J. Thompson decided to transfer without being on the team for a single game?

    Was his play just not stacking up in comparison to the other O-line recruits?

Comments are closed.