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Thursday, November 5, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 53






On the Front 'Ro'

Top 25 Notebook

Cougar Soccer



About the Cougar
 

Cougar O-line living in anonymity

By Anna Sivadasan
Daily Cougar Staff 

The starting quarterback on a team is the glamour position for a reason: He gets most of the credit for his team's success. 

His statistics are usually filled with touchdowns passes and passing yards.

The running back also gets praised quite a bit. He runs through holes and finds the end zone, or at other times, he jukes a defender and makes a great move in the open field. 

The receiver is also visible to everyone. He makes a great, leaping catch over the middle and the crowd goes crazy.

But all three of these offensive positions would not be able to do what they do best, if it wasn't for the five linemen that are in front of the quarterback.

The quarterback wouldn't be able to complete a pass, the running back would find few holes to run through, and the receivers would never catch a ball. 

That's how important offensive linemen can to be to the success of a football team. But of course, because of where they play, they live in total anonymity. There are not any statistics at the end of the game that show the offensive linemen's contribution to the team. As UH starting center Jeff Medford points out, the only time fans notice offensive linemen is when they make a mistake. 

"An offensive lineman is always in the shadow," he said. "Being the center, you're not really looked at until there is a fumbled snap. That's the only time I ever get noticed. You'd like to be in the limelight, but you take a pride in getting the job done."

Offensive linemen are usually judged on how well they protect the QB or open holes for the running back. If that is true, the UH offensive line has done a solid job on both fronts this season. In 288 pass attempts, Cougar quarterback Jason McKinley has been sacked only 13 times. On the last two Saturdays, the Cougar line has surrendered only one sack, coincidentally, both games went into the win column for UH.

Before the season started, Medford had a challenging task in front of him. The 6-4, 284 junior from Lufkin, Texas was to be the replacement for UH All-American center Ben Fricke. "There was pressure (replacing him)," Medford said. "But I took my three years to watch him and study him. I try to do some of the things that he did, but I also want to be my own player."

The best compliment one person can give another is imitation, and his predecessor's work ethic has definitely rubbed off on the Cougars' current starting center. 

"I looked at the way he worked out. I went out and studied his work ethic and his intelligence on the field. I wanted to duplicate some of those things, but I also wanted to be Jeff Medford and go out there and do what I can do."

"I wish that a lot of linemen can do what I've done. Sometimes when you get thrown in there, you have to learn stuff the hard way, but I got to sit there and watch somebody who is an All-American. I wouldn't take that back for anything."

Learning from a player of Fricke's caliber should not be underestimated. But for Medford, his head coach also has played an important role in his success on the field. 

"Coach (Kim) Helton is real honest with you," he said. "He doesn't blow any smoke. He's going to tell you things straightforward. That's what I was looking for. He's a great coach and the coaching staff is great. I'm 100 percent satisfied with coming here."
 

Reach Sivadasan at
dcsports@mail.uh.edu.
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