Sept. 2, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — There aren’t many occasions when being sandwiched between 610 pounds of bulk is a good thing. For University of Iowa freshman offensive lineman Sean Welsh, it was a blessing.
Welsh made his first start at left guard for the Hawkeye football team during a 31-23 season-opening victory against Northern Iowa on Aug. 30.
“The first play or so it felt like I was floating,” Welsh said.
But the 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman from Springboro, Ohio, could turn either direction for assistance.
“I was nervous, but all around me I had people telling me to calm down, it’s just like practice,” Welsh said. “I have Brandon (Scherff) on my left, Austin (Blythe) on my right, telling me from morning meetings until we were out on the field that everything is going to be all right. It helped; those guys are great.”
Scherff, a 6-5, 320–pound senior left tackle, made his 24th career start against the Panthers; for Blythe, a 6-3, 290-pound center, it was start No. 23.
Statistically, it was a solid first game for the Hawkeye offensive line. Iowa ran 77 plays, controlled 33:14 of the game clock, and compiled 401 total yards. Hawkeye quarterback Jake Rudock was not sacked and there were no quarterback hurries.
Welsh credits guidance and scheming from the UI coaches for making his debut more manageable.
“It goes out to the coaching staff here. They do a great job game-planning,” Welsh said. “We were prepared; we didn’t see any look that we didn’t prepare for. The coaches did a great job of seeing that.”
Along with head coach Kirk Ferentz, the UI offensive coordinator is Greg Davis and the offensive line coach is Brian Ferentz.
“We were all a little worried about how (Welsh) would do the first time out there, but he seemed comfortable and performed well, so that was good to see,” Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday at his weekly news conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “That’s the first time he went the distance as a full time starter, and he did a good job.”
The Hawkeyes have their work cut out for them Sept. 6 when Ball State comes to Kinnick Stadium. Last week during a 30-10 win against Colgate, the Cardinals allowed 227 yards of total offense, 90 on the ground.
Welsh expects to be an improved and more comfortable performer in week two.
“The goal every game is to do your job and do it the best you can,” Welsh said. “That’s what I am focused on moving forward, whether it be knowing what I am doing on every play and executing it as perfect as I can.”