1) Reading the 5th year senior articles, one thing stands out to me. If the 1996 offensive line was the best ever, and the 97-98 lines were two of the worst, how did the ’99 line improve enough for a National Championship bid? Vick was elusive, but Shyrone Stith and Andre Kendrick had a good year running the ball. Most of the ’98 players were on that ’99 team. Who/how did they make such an improvement? Most importantly, can we do than same thing from ’12 to ’13?
Chris Coleman: That’s a really good question. I believe a number of things contributed to the improvement of the offensive line between 1998 and 1999. Let’s take them one at a time.
First and foremost, players get better. Keith Short and Tim Schnecker were both senior centers with plenty of experience at that point. Josh Redding and Dave Kadela had been in the starting lineup since the beginning of the 1998 season, and Anthony Lambo and Matt Lehr had starting experience as well. That was just a much more experienced line in 1999 than it was in 1998. Those guys were a year bigger, a year stronger, and a year smarter. That’s a big deal, particularly in the trenches.
Second of all, Michael Vick (and Andre Davis) really opened up the 1999 offense. The 1998 offense was easy to defense because of the limitations of Al Clark and the lack of playmakers at the wide receiver position. (Ricky Hall was in his first year after going to a JUCO, and Andre Davis was young and banged up for a lot of the 1998 season.) However, in 1999 defenses had to defend the whole field. Vick had a rocket for an arm, and he could run the option with the best of them. The field got a lot bigger for opposing defenses in 1999, and that always helps out an offensive line.
Third, and I mentioned this yesterday, after watching some tape I don’t think the offensive line in 1998 was as bad as we remember it. Lamont Pegues got 50 more carries than Shyrone Stith, despite the fact that he averaged...
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