The offensive line of the Toledo Rockets has fallen victim to the injury bug the past few seasons. In 2019, all-MAC center Bryce Harris was out with injury, and then last season Toledo lost guard Mitchell Berg in the preseason and tackle Laval Dumont was lost early in the campaign.
Considering these injuries, perhaps it is no surprise that Toledo has uncharacteristically missed a bowl game for two straight years— although 2020 made it hard for many teams to go bowling to begin with.
Even despite the injuries, Toledo was still one of the most productive lines in the Mid-American Conference, trailing only Kent State (who led the FBS in total offense) in the MAC and placing 13th in the country, with 494 total offensive yards per game, an average of 6.42 yards per play and 26 total touchdowns in six games.
Now fully healthy as of press time, the Rockets feature one of the most star-studded lines in the conference and the Rockets could benefit from having to give so many players snaps due to injuries in the previous years.
Harris returns for another season in Toledo at his customary center position. Originally a recruit way back when in 2015, Harris has been in Toledo long enough to have a student union named for him. Harris redshirted in 2015, started seven of 11 games at center in 2016, started 13 of 14 games in 2017, was second team all-MAC after starting all 13 games in 2018, took a medical redshirt year in 2019, returned in 2020 to start every game en-route to first team all-MAC honors and now is a COVID redshirt senior.
Simply put, Harris is the most experienced offensive lineman in the conference and perhaps the best overall.
Right tackle Nick Rosi is back after moving from guard to tackle last year. Rosi earned third team all-MAC in 2019 while playing guard.
Mitchell Berg returns from injury to likely man the left tackle positon in the land of Tony Packos. The local product from Toledo St. Johns HS started 10 games at left tackle in 2019 and saw action in all 13 at tackle back in 2018.
Vitaliy Guzman returns after handling the left tackle spot in Berg’s absence for all six games last season. The former all-conference selection at Edinboro (D-II) was in his first season in Toledo following his transfer in.
The fifth and final starter is likely to be another local product in Tyler Long from Springfield. Long started five of the six games he played in last year at right guard after starting two games there in 2018.
Laval Dumont returns from injury and should challenge for a return to the starting lineup after being injured in the first game of the 2020 season against Bowling Green.
Guard Luke Doerger is also competing for time after starting all six games at guard last year, and started all 12 games in 2019 at center during Bryce Harris’ absence.
Jason Candle entrusts the offensive line to co-offensive coordinator Mike Hallett and offensive tackles coach Mark Staten, who was a longtime offensive line coach at Michigan State.
It usually bodes well for a team in the MAC if they can featured experienced, mature offensive lineman throughout their two deep. If the Rocket line can stay healthy, expect this experienced group to help lead star back Bryant Koback to a special season. Behind this offensive line, the Rockets expectations could go all the way to the moon.