Sep 21, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Massachusetts Minutemen offensive linesman Matt Sparks (78) gets set to snap the ball during the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Minutemen Football By Position: Offensive Line Veterans

Last year, the UMass Minutemen offensive line showed great improvement over the 2012 team. As a whole just 16 sacks in 12 games as opposed to 32 the previous year. This gave their quarterbacks much better protection and more time to get throws off. The line also helped improve the run game. The average run improved from 2.7 yards per carry in 2012 to 3.4 yards in 2013. This was partly thanks to the running backs improving, but the decrease in sacks is a true badge for the big men up front. Unfortunately, the Minutemen graduated three of their offensive line starters leaving them with just two: Matt Sparks and Tyrell Smith. Let’s take a look and see where they will be playing this year as well as what to expect.

A Hawaii native as well as the starting center for the UMass Minutemen last year, Matt Sparks is back again for his junior year. Starting every game last year with the exception of one, the 6ft4 290lb center played well providing some stability to a great offensive line last year.

Last year for the Minutemen Tyrell Smith started at left guard every game last year, but this year that might not be the case. The redshirt sophomore would be a great choice to play left tackle for the team this year, a position viewed by many as far more valuable than guard. At 6ft5 295lbs, there is no doubt Smith will not only be able to handle the position, but handle it well.

Even though the Minutemen do not have the most experienced line this year, it is a great sign that they have two dependable men playing valuable positions on the line. Luckily they have a veteran snapping the ball and protecting the quarterback’s blindside since young talent should be able to take care of the rest.

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