Pack Set Up Front?

Pack Set Up Front?

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Tom O'Brien probably came into the 2012 season feeling the most confident about his offensive line over perhaps any other group.

All five projected starters had started games previously during their careers, while four plus a projected backup had been season-long starters.

However, injuries to three-year starting right guard Zach Allen and both tackles, Andrew Wallace and Rob Crisp early in the year decimated the line, and now after eight games the Pack has used five different starting offensive lines.

Crisp returned against Maryland now has two games under his belt at left tackle. The talented junior, a five-star recruit out of high school, is still working his way completely back according to O'Brien.

"[Crisp was] really rusty the first game and a little bit better the last game," said O'Brien. "He's still trying to get back in the swing of things. He had those six weeks off where he tried to get back in, would play a day, and then set himself back in practice. He's getting better."

Now everyone is back outside of Allen, who is out for the season, and O'Brien believes the Pack has their best five linemen starting at this point.

"It's where we think we are right now, with our five best on the field," he said. "We started the year with [Crisp] at left tackle, R.J. [Mattes] at left guard, and Wentz at center. That side of the ball, we're the best we can be on that side of the ball. Chandler started at right tackle and then Wallace got hurt. He was backing Wallace up so he's back to the spot he was in preseason when we set the original lineup.

"The only change is Christophe because we lost Allen, who was our best run blocker and most experienced guy up front. We moved Christophe from left to right, that was the only change so they are kind of getting used to each other on the right side."

Perhaps the most surprising change is at right tackle, where Tyson Chandler has settled in as the starter. Senior Andrew Wallace began the year as the starter, but Chandler has remained in the lineup even with Wallace available for action.

The redshirt sophomore has had some shaky moments this year, particularly when he was in for Crisp at left tackle, but has played the most snaps offensively the last two games.

"We've asked a lot of him," O'Brien said of Chandler. "He's gone to right, he had to go to left which is tough, and then he's gone back to right. He has shown progress the last couple of games.

"I think the off week helped. He studied some tape, we talked about some of the techniques and fundamentals, and he's more comfortable over there at right tackle. Those are where you want [Crisp and Chandler] now and going forward."

The good news for State is the group of Crisp, Mattes, Wentz, Christophe, and Chandler are entering their third consecutive game together. The hope is they can continue to develop the chemistry needed to excel as a unit.

"It's big," said O'Brien. "It's the most important grouping on the field where consistency is important.

"With all the twists and stunts and blitzing going on, you've got to be used to the guy next to you because everybody's pressure points and strength points are different."

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