It's been said that defenses win championships.
Most fans of college football would tend to agree. That said, a team also needs to score a few points along the way to help the cause.
In order for those points to be scored, the offensive line needs to provide enough time for a play to work itself out.
The offensive line was one of the bigger mysteries for the Iowa Hawkeyes heading into the 2010 season. The Hawkeyes looked to have a little work cut out for them, replacing two NFL draft picks (Bryan Bulaga and Kyle Calloway) and a couple of all-Big Ten team selections (Dace Richardson and Rafael Eubanks).
During summer practice, the coaches and players seemed optimistic about the challenge; they seemed ready to put in the work.
Senior Julian Vandervelde and sophomore Riley Reiff are two returning starters from last year that look to anchor the line. Vandervelde is a proven three-year starter with a ton of intelligence. Reiff started 11 games as a redshirt freshman, and more than held his own during Big Ten play.
"We like to think as an offensive line that we're always going to control the tempo of the game to a certain extent," Vandervelde told the Iowa City Press Citizen. "Games are won or lost in the trenches, and we believe that to the utmost extent at Iowa. For us to have that sort of pressure put on us is something we welcome."
Starting along side Vandervelde and Reiff are junior guard Adam Gettis and junior tackle Markus Zusevics. Even though both players saw plenty of action last season, both know people are wondering about them.
“We hear people questioning our offensive line. We know people have some doubts," Gettis told reporters after Iowa's open scrimmage. "We’re determined to prove people wrong.”
Head coach Kirk Ferentz proves Gettis to be a man of his word.
“Adam has really looked very, very good,” Ferentz said after the public practice. “He’s really concentrating, been very consistent. He’s flashed at times, but now he looks like a consistent guy who’s ready to jump in there and play at a high level.”
At center, senior Josh Koeppel and sophomore James Ferentz are competing for the starting job. It's a friendly competition, but as of yet there is no clear front-runner.
"We've been friends since high school," the younger Ferentz told reporters at Media Day. "This is tough on the friendship, but business is business and friendship is friendship."
As the season progresses, the offensive line will undoubtedly transform a number of times. Players like Nolan MacMillan, Woody Orne, Kyle Haganman, and Cody Hundertmark will also contribute this season.
For now, the starters seem set and ready for action. It's not quite the mystery everyone thinks it is.