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Football: Young tackles expected to step up immediately

The Horned Frog offensive line took a major hit during the preseason with the loss of a senior, but the group is coming together to replace him.”It was a big loss losing (Wade) Sisk,” head coach Gary Patterson said of senior, who tore his ACL during the preseason and is out for the year.

Sisk started all 13 games last season and recorded 38 knockdown blocks last season, good for third on the team.

Because of the injury, the Frogs will have to find someone to fill the gap on the left side of the quarterback.

“We have to grow up and find players at the offensive tackle position,” Patterson said. “Our center position is secure and we have depth at guard, but the tackle position becomes important when people rush you from all sides.”

The two tackle positions will be filled by a combination of four players who have yet to start a game for the Horned Frogs.

Sophomores Marshall Newhouse and Nic Richmond will try to fill the void left by Sisk at left tackle. Newhouse was the only true freshman to get playing time on offense last season. Richmond played in five games last season, including the bowl game versus Northern Illinois University.

For the right tackle position, the battle for playing time will be between redshirt freshman Marcus Cannon and sophomore Tyler Marrou. Cannon will be getting his first dose of playing time this season after redshirting all of last season, while Marrou played in four games for the Frogs in 2006.

Junior center Blake Schlueter said Cannon has a lot of potential to come in and contribute.

“Marcus has some tremendous upside,” Schlueter said. “He is huge and very athletic for his size and I think he is going to do nothing but get better while he is here. He is going to have to do it a little sooner than we expected, but I think he has a chance to be a very special player while he is here.”

Schlueter, who is on the Rimington Award watch list honoring the nation’s best center, thinks the returning offensive linemen are leaders for the offense.

“I think the entire offensive line has to lead as a unit,” Schlueter said. “I consider myself a leader on the offensive line. I think some of the younger players might look up to me and the offensive line and lead people in the right direction.”

Patterson said he will pick the players who will help the team succeed and he will have a chance to do that early on.

“In the first four out of the five games, we have a chance to take the whole team,” Patterson said. “So I will play whoever can help us win.”

This year’s offensive line will have to grow up quickly in order to match last year’s group, which only allowed 15 sacks. This was good enough to tie the group for sixth in the nation in least sacks allowed.

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