Lobos O-line named a top unit nationwide

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By The Staff

Twenty-one offensive lines were named to the Joe Moore Mid-Season Honor Roll by the Foundation for Teamwork, and The University of New Mexico's unit was one of the 21 that made the list, as was announced today in New York. Of the 21 units honored, 16 reside in the current AP Top 25, and combined the teams have a record of 100-19.

The Lobo offensive line has been anchored by two seniors in Rimington candidate Blaise Fountain at center and Avery Jordan at left tackle. Junior Aaron Jenkins at right guard has, like Fountain and Jordan, started all five games. UNM's other two spots have seen shared duty. Charlie Grammel, Ray Baylor III and Chris Estrella have all started at left guard, and Izrael Castellanos and Teton Saltes have started at right tackle.

UNM's offensive line has certainly improved as the season has wore on, with UNM's rushing yardage total going up in each of the last four games. The Lobos are currently 12th nationally in rushing yards per game, averaging 266.8 yards per game. The Lobos are the only team in the country to have finished in the top 10 in rushing in each of the last five seasons.

Last year, UNM led the nation with 350.0 yards per game, the first time in school history the Lobos have led the nation in rushing. In UNM's last outing, quarterback Lamar Jordan wasn't sacked and UNM ran for a season-high 363 yards, including 179 and five rushing touchdowns by Richard McQuarley.

Joining UNM on the mid-season honor roll, in alphabetical order: Alabama, Auburn, Buffalo, Clemson, Georgia, Miami, Navy, North Carolina State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, San Diego State, SMU, Stanford, TCU, Virginia Tech, Washington, Western Michigan, and Wisconsin.

"The O-line position is much more technical than some realize. So when we watch the film, we're looking to see which units not only use good technique, but also for those that display a willingness to compete, finish, and set the tone for their offense," said Cole Cubelic, who is the current Chairman of the Joe Moore Award Voting Subcommittee, a sideline analyst for the SEC Network and played offensive line for Auburn 1996-2001. "Its early in the season, and it takes a while for units to get going, so we are especially working to identify groups that can do this consistently every game."

"There's a good chance there's not a single OL coach in the country that's happy with how their Unit is playing. That's just their nature. But the teams on the Mid-Season Honor Roll caught the attention of the Subcommittee for good reason," said Aaron Taylor, CBS CFB Analyst and Team Captain of the Joe Moore Award. "As in years past, this award won't be earned until November, the time when college football matters most. As the season progresses, the bar will be raised along with the stakes, and all of these units have a lot of work to do in order to earn this year's title of Most Outstanding Offensive Line Unit in college football."