Coast Guard offensive line making adjustments on the run
New London — Coast Guard was coming off a season last year in which it passed for 3,222 yards. That meant mainly one thing for the offensive line: fine-tuning its pass blocking.
Then, quarterback Ethan Goldcamp, a junior and the heir to to the kingdom following the graduation of the record-setting Derek Victory, took a hit to the head in a game at Norwich University in Week 4 and has been ruled out ever since with a concussion. Goldcamp was the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference passing leader at the time.
But when 6-foot, 210-pound backup Ryan Jones hit the field at quarterback the next week, the coaching staff saw something else from the sophomore. He has the ability to plow people over running the ball.
"I love watching film when he runs someone over. He's not afraid to stick his head in there," senior right tackle Cory Tomasetti said.
Now, heading into Saturday's game at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Coast Guard (3-5, 1-4) has switched up its traditional pass-oriented offense, rushing for a combined 294 yards over the last two weeks.
The offensive line spent last week's bye week brushing up on run blocking for Jones, fellow quarterback Jake Pawlina and an oft-used two-back set featuring running back Cam Cecchini (108 carries, 379 yards, 1 TD) and former wide receiver Cody Bain (13 carries, 80 yards, 1 TD).
"I like it," said Tomasetti, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior. "I like run blocking better ... zone blocks and working with the tight end and the guard. I guess it's more aggressive. It's more fun for me to run down field and block."
"It's been different," said junior center Hudson Dunaway, who is 6-3 and 270 pounds. "We spent all offseason and the preseason getting back and giving Ethan time. We had to change our ideas a little bit. I think we have a good group for it, though, bigger than normal. We have three guys over 260."
The official depth chart lists the line as including Tomasetti, right guard Colton Rausch (6-1, 235), Dunaway, left guard Nicholas Szep (6-0, 250) and left tackle Bill Boardman (6-2, 255). Dunaway and Rausch swapped positions earlier in the season.
"I just think we have a group that's capable of moving people. It started out that we were pretty athletic guys. Now we're athletic guys that have a little bit of power to them," Dunaway said.
Head coach Bill George is quick to point out the run plays are the same ones the Bears have always had in their playbook. They're just using them significantly more.
"It's the basic thing; you have to do what you do best," George said at Wednesday's weekly team luncheon. "With Derek and Ethan, it wasn't their thing. Coach (Ray) LaForte (Coast Guard offensive coordinator) and I are old split-back veer guys from Ithaca (where both formerly served as assistant coaches). I enjoy getting back to it."
Coast Guard rushed for 187 yards in a 30-21 loss to MIT on Oct. 21. Jones had a team-high 59 yards and a touchdown, while completing 11 of 22 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown, with three interceptions. Cecchini had 51 yards, Bain 42 and Pawlina 28.
On one series in the third quarter, the quarterbacks alternated plays.
"Sometimes I don't even realize when they switch," Tomasetti said of the quarterbacks. "I see them run by me and it's not who I think it was."
"It's more about mental reps and knowing what you've got to do," Dunaway said of the benefits of the bye week, as the Bears switched offenses in the week leading up to MIT. "We even went ones vs. ones last week (the starting offense vs. the starting defense). Competition will always make you better."
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