By ANDY WOLF
The measuring standard for the University of Findlay’s offensive line play can be simplified in two words.
Violence and touchdowns.
Both happen largely on Saturdays as a product of the aura created from past UF linemen.
Since Rob Keys took over as head coach in 2011, 11 offensive linemen have received some form of all-conference recognition.
“We walk into our meeting room, we see the standard of all-conference, all-Americans upon the wall every day,” sophomore Logan Bailey said. “It’s just the expectations. We have to meet those standards.”
The Oilers, 10-3 overall last season, return their entire starting five from both playoff games.
However, it’s only because senior All-American left guard Andrew Alten’s season was done via injury in Week 9 against Malone.
Bailey filled in for Alten on the left side, shifting third-year starter and junior Andrew Dickinson down to left guard.
Keys hasn’t officially decided exactly where Bailey or Dickinson will end up in 2018. He’s tried different combinations on the line with each member being versatile enough to move around.
“It gives you the ability to get the best five on the field at all times,” Keys said.
Neal Davis is back for his third year at center. Clay Colvin started all 13 games at right guard while senior Christian Olmstead has 23 career starts at right tackle.
Together, they helped UF set a season-record for 578 points in one season.
That’s 80 touchdowns stemming from pushing the other team around.
“We can tell we’re just going out there destroying people and driving every single play,” Bailey said. “We’re moving yards down the field and then we finish with a touchdown. That’s what I think when we’re rolling.”
Findlay also ranked sixth nationally in rushing offense at 260.9 yards per game. Only ten teams allowed fewer sacks per game (.85, 11 in 13 games).
In the playoffs, the Oilers stormed into Shepherdstown, West Virginia and stun No.-2 ranked Shepherd behind 277 rushing yards and almost 42 minutes of possession.
None of those gaudy stats will matter in 2018.
“Even though everybody is coming back, there’s nothing set in stone,” Colvin said. “We don’t want to bask in the past and look at what we did, Last year is irrelevant.”
“It’s being not content with anything,” Dickinson said. “Yeah, we have a lot of experience back, a lot of guys back from last year, but we’ve got to keep building every day.”
Maybe the only relevance from 2017 is the carryover from the impact of Alten — a first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association.
Alten totaled 37 starts in four years at UF.
Bailey, Colvin and Dickinson all experienced some sort of guidance from Alten’s veteran presence.
Colvin spent 2015 as defensive linemen before flipping to the other side.
“He also held me to that expectation even though I had just come into the group,” Colvin said. “He didn’t let me use that as an excuse to not understand what was going on, not know the plays and not play with violence.”
Even when injured, the offensive line had to go back to the sideline to see whether their play met Alten’s satisfaction.
Alten is back with UF as the assistant offensive line coach to Kory Allen.
“We’ve tried to move to that as a program, regardless of who has played great in a certain season,” Keys said. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone. No knock to any of those guys. (Alten) was a phenomenal player — one of the best offensive linemen we’ve ever coached.
“But at the same time, when his time is up, he’s out the door.”
Because the Oilers were so dominant in many of their league games, Keys got to sub in reserves for the majority of the second half.
Joseph Lechkun, Joe Horne and Ross Gibson all saw action in least three games.