MARQUETTE - Whether its run blocking or pass blocking, Northern Michigan University offensive line coach and run game coordinator Rob Boss is confident the Wildcats line will hold its ground even without its anchor from 2012.
"I think they're a group that can do both," Boss said. "I think we have a group that's been out there, they've done it, they know what they're doing. They're game tested."
The 'Cats may be without Escanaba native Jace Daniels, who spent August in training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they return three seniors in Chad Anderson of Sault Ste. Marie, James Bester and Patrick Fehlberg.
Northern Michigan University senior offensive lineman Chad Anderson blocks senior teammate and linebacker Morgan Stenz on Aug. 20 during a preseason practice outside the Superior Dome. (Journal file photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Sophomores Peter Hagermoser and Kyle Steuck saw significant time last year, and could see more with juniors Brad Kaatz and Anthony Vella injured.
The depth and experience of the offensive line has left not only Boss confident, but head coach Chris Ostrowsky and senior quarterback Cody Scepaniak.
"I don't think you can ever fill a Jace Daniels void," Scepaniak said. "He is a hell of a player. But, I think our line is experienced. They're fast, they're physical. It's great to watch the chemistry they have.
"I'm really close with them, so they believe in me and I trust them. It's really a great chemistry we have going right now."
Ostrowsky said Steuck will be a major contributor on the line after he was named the NMU offense newcomer of the year last year, appearing in all 10 games as a redshirt freshman.
Ostrowsky is also high on sophomore guard
Peter Hagermoser after the now Northern head coach originally recruited the Lancaster, Mass. native as an assistant at Northeastern University in Boston.
Fehlberg is "the model of consistency," according to Ostrowsky. The senior center has appeared in 22 games over the previous two seasons and even played six games as a freshman.
The special player of the group, however, is Anderson, according to both Boss and Ostrowsky.
"The guy that has really stepped forward with his play so far this year through the spring and into the fall now through camp has been Chad Anderson," Boss said. "He's done a tremendous job. Very, very physically gifted guy. He's worked his butt off through the summer.
"He is special," Ostrowsky said. "He's a hell of a football player. I think at the end of the season, everyone is going to know about Chad Anderson. He's athletic, he's big, he strong, he's physical. When he's going, he's going. He really anchors our offensive line."
While Anderson said he appreciates his coaches' compliments and wants to exceed their expectations, the key to the offensive line isn't him specifically.
To the Sault native, it's the chemistry the group possesses after playing together for so long.
"It's like a brotherhood," Anderson said. "You have a bunch of brothers on the team.
"Everybody is on the same page. Everybody knows what they are doing. If somebody is messing up, we got somebody picking them up and telling them what to do. We have a lot of help out there."