Nov. 19, 1999
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
By Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
On Sept. 4, three redshirt freshmen offensive linemen made theircollege football debut for the University of Wyoming.They did so on the road against defending national champion Tennessee infront of 107,000 fans.
The result? A 42-17 UW loss where the line surrendered 13 quarterback sacks.Eight games later and some minor shuffling of positions, the offensive linemade vast improvements. The play of those five guys have been huge factorsin the Cowboys' last two wins against Utah and Brigham Young where theoffense has racked up 74 points and 1,014 yards of total offense.
?Knowing we had a lot of young guys up front, I knew we had to be very, verypatient,? UW offensive line coach Clancy Barone said. ?We had some injuriesearly on and had to move some guys around. It wasn't until the fifth orsixth game of the year before we had the same five guys playing the samefive positions in back-to-back weeks.
?To get those five guys to jell, they have to work so well with each other.It is going to take time, and we're not there yet. We are getting betterevery week, and as a coach, that's all you can ask for.?
The five linemen who have been protecting the quarterback and opening upholes for the running backs this season are senior Dan Delcorio at center,senior Chris Cichosz at right guard and redshirt freshman Rob Kellerman atright tackle. A pair of redshirt freshmen are on the left side -- guard MikeIrvin and tackle Adam Goldberg.
Delcorio started the season at left guard and Irvin at center. Delcorio wasmoved to center after two games. After Irvin recovered from an ankle injury,he moved to left guard in the fourth game.
Four games ago, Cichosz and Kellerman swapped positions on the right side.Delcorio and Cichosz went into the season battle tested, but the freshmenwere not. So are these youngsters still considered freshmen?
?They are seasoned for redshirt freshman,? Barone said. ?They are not thereyet, and my seniors are not there yet. We're not perfect, but we're tryingto be.?
Goldberg said despite the rough debut against Tennessee, he and the rest ofhis freshmen line mates knew they could play at the Division I-A level.
?After the Tennessee game we didn't consider ourselves rookies anymore,? hesaid. ?Once we realized these guys tie their shoes the same way we do, andthat a year or so doesn?t make that much difference, we realized we can playwith these guys.?
Delcorio was an honorable mention all-conference pick last season at guard.However, that was his first season as a starter. In his previous two seasonshe saw limited action. The same is true with Cichosz in terms of playingtime.
Now, both are the anchors and leaders of the offensive line. Delcorio saidhe's been impressed with the progress the freshmen have made throughout theseason.
?Our younger guys keep getting better,? Delcorio said. ?They're only intheir second year, and I don't know if I was ready in my second year. Ithink they've progressed really well.
Delcorio agrees with Barone that there is room for improvement.
?Maybe do a little better job of pass protecting,? Delcorio said. ?For themost part, we protect pretty well. It would be nice if we could give thequarterback another second or two.
?I think, for the most part, we're about where we need to be. It's hard saywe're not when we put 31 points on the best defense in the league againstBYU and 43 points the week before against Utah. There?s always room forimprovement.?