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August 21, 2009Sign-up for InsideHilltopperSports.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone!
In addition to offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Walter Wells, there's another person that will let the offensive linemen hear about it when something or someone screws up.
Whether it's in a drill, during practice or in a game, senior Cody Hughes doesn't tolerate mistakes from anybody, himself included. So it's easy to see why he makes no excuses for injuries that have led miscues in fall camp.
"The mentality of this program is to work hard no matter what," he said. "Without considering the circumstances, we work hard. Injuries happen, injuries are part of the game, but we're gonna continue to work hard. That's the kind of philosophy that Coach Elson has, is it doesn't matter what happens we're gonna do what we do, we're gonna play how we play and we're gonna prepare how we prepare."
At first Hughes made a few mistakes himself, as he moved from guard to center last weekend. Hughes isn't WKU's first option at center, with senior Lloyd Pressley out with disc injuries in his back and redshirt freshman Luke Stansfield suffering a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus, shelving his season. But Hughes has fit right in.
"He's so strong in the middle that he gives us a push," Wells said. "He understands what we're doing. Playing guard, you pretty much know what the center does. You have to get used to the snap and the cadence and all that stuff and you've got a little more front calls to make and things like that. He's a fifth-year senior, he's done it before and he understands it."
The only stable part of the line, after the center was held down by Hughes, has come at both tackle positions. Sophomore left tackle Wes Jeffries and junior right tackle Preston King have both been healthy thus far and provided much needed stability.
Jeffries might have the toughest task, protecting the blindside of the Toppers' quarterbacks, who are all right-handed.
"I feel the pressure, because I can't give up a sack," Jeffries said. "They don't know what's going on behind them. The quarterback has to trust their left side more than anybody because they don't know what's gonna happen."
There's been a few injuries as guard, where sophomore Shelley Anthony has still been nursing a knee injury from the spring and juniors Derrick Elder, Jacob McLaurin and Mychal Patterson have each missed all or considerable time during camp. The bright side is that a few of the younger linemen have seen more practice time.
"Our idea was we wanted to get the same guys playing together," coach David Elson said. "That's been difficult to do, but I think they've done a good job of coming in, they've adjusted and the first group seems to be doing well. The second group is not quite there, but they're doing a good job."
Wells has stressed technique with all the linemen, but also has a few areas that he's tried to get across to each of the linemen, including blitzes and protection schemes.
"The other thing is the communication part, so when we do change plays at the line of scrimmage or we do change to a protection, they understand it and communicate it throughout the line so that we don't have people running free," Wells said. "We've had that a couple of times so far, but we're getting better and better, at least with our first group."
Hughes doesn't wanna hear any complaining or other excuses for things wrong in practice. He's been here before, playing at center for the Toppers' season-opening game last year at Indiana. Hughes wasn't happy with himself and the bad exchanges he had in that game.
But with Hughes and the rest of the linemen, as injuries come and go, they'll have to be able to adjust to play where necessary.
"It's kinda hard to hold trust when you go in a game situation and mess up," Hughes said. "Practice is a little different. But it's a game situation. I feel like I've prepared well to play center. I'm still a guard at heart, but I'm a football player first, before a guard or center. I love to play football. Wherever I'm needed, I'll be in."
Check Out InsideHilltopperSports.com's insider's only look at today's practices, including injury reports.
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