Lycoming returns familiar faces on offensive line

There’s a lot of communication between Greg Kovacs and Lycoming’s offensive tackles through the course of a game. It’s a prerequisite of the Warriors’ offensive line.

Kovacs, a senior tight end, and really an extension of Lycoming’s offensive line, is used to working with new people. Lycoming head coach Mike Clark likes to be able to rotate in as many as three extra linemen through the course of the season.

So when a new season rolls around, there isn’t much of a learning curve for Kovacs. He’s already taken in-game snaps with the linemen starting each week.

“You know their tendencies, especially for double teams,” Kovacs said during the team’s media day last month. “I like being next to a tackle I’ve played with before.”

Even in the need to replace a pair of starters on the offensive line, there’s not many news faces in the group Kovacs will be working with when Lycoming opens its season Saturday against Brockport. Garrett Hartman, Matt Patterson, Casey Strus and Mike Chaput all saw significant time on the offensive line a year ago, and Matt Bloom is a junior who is starting for the first time.

There’s some shuffling which took place to replace the losses of Cody Moyer and Andrew Wagner, but the pieces are very similar. Hartman has moved from right to left tackle after putting on nearly 30 pounds. Matt Patterson, who saw time as a freshman before a knee injury cut short his season, is atop the depth chart at left guard.

“You’re not really starting fresh,” Kovacs said. “It’s not like a guy has never been in a game before. It doesn’t matter if you’re only in there every third series for three plays, you’ve been there and you know what it’s like.”

Clark, an offensive lineman in the late 1980s and early 1990s at Lycoming, works extensively with the offensive line and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the group came together during preseason camp. The starting five never seems to be a concern for Clark, but developing depth is almost always an issue.

He’s countered that problem by rotating in eight or nine offensive linemen throughout the course of a football game. When a change is needed, because of injury or graduation, there hasn’t seemed to be a drop off in recent years.

“If you can get those guys in and get them experience, if they have to play more at least they have something to reflect and draw on,” Clark said. “If you don’t give them experience and then throw them in there, that’s when you have problems. We don’t have 10 offensive linemen we put in, but if we play eight, then that’s good. It just benefits everyone.”

They’ve added some size to the line this year with the addition of Bloom at right tackle who is 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, and Patterson who comes in at 273 pounds. Across the front, Kovacs included, the Warriors are averaging 8 1/2 pounds per man more than a year ago.

“The first couple years we never got Matt in the game a lot,” Clark said. “But he wrestled in the winter and in the spring I said to Matt that this is a really major year for him. He’s been really good and really dependable.”