Family-style offensive line propels running game

This year’s five offensive linemen enjoy each other’s company on and off the field.
Sophomore center Evan Boehm (left) and senior left guard Max Copeland celebrate Missouri's 31-3 win over Tennessee on Saturday.

Missouri football’s explosive offense starts in the trenches.

Never mind the accolades the offensive line has received so far this season. For the Missouri players who line up with each other, the line goes beyond the numbers.

“This offensive line has something special that no one can really quantify,” senior left tackle Justin Britt said.

Sophomore lineman Evan Boehm said the line is a special group because they are like a family. Recently, this “family” has been celebrating Christmas early with dance parties outside the Missouri Athletic Training Complex in a new tradition aptly named Christmas Thursdays.

“Christmas Thursdays are a tried and true tradition for the offensive line,” senior lineman Max Copeland said. “Where we gather and sing carols of Noel and show off our dance moves. It recharges our chi for the game.”

The tradition started with a Pandora playlist around the Sept. 21 game against Indiana.

Sophomore right tackle Connor McGovern said it’s a way for the line to relax and it helps them to perform better on the field.

“We are definitely really close,” he said. “We have been close since the summer. That was one of our points of emphasis over the summer, was to be close. It’s just the way the offensive line works. The closer you are the better.”

That bond is reflected in the line’s success during the games but it starts off the field, where the offensive lineman have become a family. They spend most of their time together to the point that Copeland understands Britt’s grunts.

As a family, Boehm said they are a group that sticks out walking around the training complex for reasons ranging from their size to their beards. He said an offensive lineman is never without another offensive lineman.

“Us five guys up front are special,” Boehm said. “We don’t go a day without seeing each other. We don’t go a day without talking to each other. It’s what makes us so close and so special.”

The family-styled offensive line has contributed to make Missouri’s offense one of the best in the nation. Last Saturday, the running game rushed for 339 yards, the most in a conference game since 2003, in the Tigers 31-3 win over the Tennessee. The Southeastern Conference on Monday selected Britt as the SEC Player of the Week.

It wasn’t just Britt, though. The offensive line did not give up a sack for the second game of the season and opened up holes for the running game.

Junior running back Henry Josey praised the offensive line Monday.

“They are doing an amazing job, and also our receivers are doing a great job of blocking on the outside which makes everything so much easier for us,” he said.

This season, the running backs have propelled Missouri to the second-ranked rushing offense in the SEC, something the line takes pride in.

“It’s even more special this year when I just told that all three of the running backs are over 1600 combined rushing yards, and that’s something special to be a part of,” Boehm said. “When they go down and score and celebrate and you see the smile on their faces, you know them scoring is like us scoring.”

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