O-Line Key to QB’s Success

Senior center Doug Klopacz blocks against sophomore defensive end Brandon Ware for freshman running back Silas Redd.

The quarterbacks have dominated the headlines leading up to the Blue and White game, but there are certainly other positions that are going through renovations. Some of those renovations, such as the ones across the offensive line, will be critical to the quarterbacks’ success– no matter who wins that prized starting spot.

With only two full-time starters returning , there won’t be one offensive lineman who will be playing the same position as last year. Senior Lou Eliades is shifting down a spot from right guard to right tackle, while the biggest change comes from All-Big Ten center Stefen Wisniewski, who will be stepping down as center and returning to right guard. He played guard as a sophomore, while A.Q. Shipley held down the fort at center.

“I love it.  I want to play there all season,” said a jolly Wisniewski after Saturday’s game. He seemed quite pleased with the offensive line’s performance, rightfully so. The entire unit only gave up four sacks on the day, but the scrimmage rules, which protect the quarterback, might skew those numbers.

Quarterback coach Jay Paterno understands that the offensive lines success will correlate to success for whichever quarterback he chooses. Even though the QBs did face pressure throughout the day, he believes his quarterbacks’ mobility will make a nice combination with the inexperienced offensive line.

I’m not sure if anyone has ever heard of him, but Jay’s father, Joe Paterno, also likes the way his offensive line is developing, especially in the middle with the guards and center.  When Joe said, “I kind of like Klopacz,” it really meant that he knows this kid’s potential, and he needs to be on the field.

This “kid,” which is how Joe Pa referred to him several times, is senior center Doug Klopacz and he will be replacing the popular Wisniewski in the core of the offensive line.  Klopacz understands the center position often carries the load of the offensive line and is often looked upon as a leader.  When asked about that responsibility Klopacz responded with, “If that’s me being a leader, that’s how its going to be.”

That type of confidence is a probable reason why the coaches think so highly of the senior center, who could have battled for the starting position last year, but an ACL tear in 2008 diminished those hopes.  He now understands it is time to capture the moment and stand out in his newest role.

Helping Klopacz excel is his former roomate and current Philadelphia Eagle, A.Q. Shipley. Klopacz spoke after the game and mentioned how he stays in close contact with the All-Big Ten center and receives advice on their common position.

After a good game Saturday, it looks like Klopacz will become a permanent fixture on the 2010 starting squad. The other starters Saturday were junior Quinn Barham at left tackle, junior DeOn’tae Pannell at left guard, Wisniewski at the opposite guard spot, and Eliades, who rounds the crew off at right tackle. This combination of big men, who have an average weight of 296 pounds, should gel smoothly– at least that is what these quarterbacks are hoping. If the winner of this QB competition hopes for success, he’d better make sure the the offensive line is up for the challenge.

Check out Onward State’s question to Joe Paterno regarding the offensive line  during the pregame press conference in this video from Penn Live.

[Photo Credit: Chase Tralka]

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About the Author

Tim Owen

I am originally from a very small town in northeastern Pennsyltucky, called Athens. Currently, I am enrolled in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism and major in print journalism. I have a passion for sports, and more specifically football. I enjoy hunting, cooking, food, and everything Penn State!

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