Big changes in store for Rams’ offensive line

By Dave Wagner

The Portales Rams have only one starter returning this season in the offensive line — and he’s playing a different position.
Still, veteran Rams line coach Patrick Crowley is more concerned that the psyche of his linemen becomes more aggressive.
“We’re going to run more of an attack scheme this year,” Crowley said after the completion of Monday’s first two-a-days. “A point of emphasis this year is we’re going to hit (opponents) in the mouth.”
Only senior Jacob Lopez returns in the line, and he has moved from center to guard.
The 5-foot-8, 190-pound Lopez, a third-year starter in the line who is also ticketed for outside linebacker on defense, said playing a new position shouldn’t be a big adjustment.
“I grew up playing O-line,” he said. “I’ve played center since my seventh grade year, but in high school I’ve been brought up to play everything.
“We’ve got some young guys who have the talent. I’ve got to emphasize (to teammates) to work hard. If we do the right things, we’ll be all right.”
Crowley said the Rams won’t be particularly big on the line. In addition, they could have two or three players going both days up front after two-platooning for the most part in 2003.
“We’re really going to rely on senior leadership; they know my expectations,” Crowley said. “We’re not as big as I’d like us to be, but with the quickness and smarts that we have and the size of the hearts, we’re going to be fine.”
Beyond Lopez, 5-11, 250-pound senior Zach Howard has perhaps the most experience in the offensive line. He rotated in last season at left tackle.
Portales is trying to rebound from a 3-7 season last fall.
“You can never tell (what will happen),” Howard said. “Last year, we thought we were going to do good and we didn’t make the (Class 3A) playoffs.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys on the line, but hopefully we’ll do better this year. And I think we will.”
Crowley likes his group of athletes.
“It’s a joy to be here,” he said. “In two-a-days, the players get to realize my expectations and the consequences of their actions.
“We’ve got an opportunity, if this group can continue to learn and develop, to make some things happen.”