Stability a priority


POSTED: Saturday, August 22, 2009

Despite yet another change in leadership, Gordy Shaw—the Warriors' fifth line coach in as many years—sought to imbue the line with a sense of stability upon his arrival in the spring.

Positions on the line were locked and the starting group of five seniors held together throughout spring ball.

This year's line is constructed around center John Estes, a mainstay in the interior since he broke into the starting group as a redshirt freshman in 2006. The All-America candidate has started all of the Warriors' last 41 games, earning first-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors the past two years.





        » Returnees: John Estes, Aaron Kia, Laupepa Letuli

» Quick Hit: A group of five seniors aims for a strong finish


» Key Stat: The Warriors tied an NCAA record, giving up 57 sacks last season




Though he carries a calm demeanor off the field, Estes possesses a nasty streak once he steps between the lines.

Guards Raphael Ieru and Ray Hisatake saw little more than spot duty last year, but began fall camp on solid footing with the first unit. Aaron Kia returns at left tackle after starting the last 11 games last season. Laupepa Letuli has found a home at right tackle after floating between positions as a junior.


Shaw helped drive Minnesota's prolific run-based system for 14 years. Though the run-and-shoot represents a shift in offensive philosophy, Shaw has emphasized fundamentals since joining the program.




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Most of the linemen trained on campus over the summer and reported for fall camp leaner and in better condition than when they finished spring ball.

Kainoa LaCount was a highly sought after junior college prospect in 2008, but didn't earn his associate's degree in time to enroll last fall. He joined the program as a walk on, and needs to get back into game shape after a year away from the field.


Once they get past the first unit, the Warriors really start running thin on experience. They opened camp with a junior, three sophomores and a redshirt freshman constituting the second unit.


Stay healthy. Developing the continuity necessary in building a sturdy front hinges on keeping the group of five seniors together. Last year's NCAA record sack total can't be pinned entirely on the line's play, but shoring up pass protection remains vital for the offense to produce to its capability.






        By Coach Gordy Shaw

        “;They're stronger and leaner. They hit all of their goals (in the offseason); every one of them are where they want to be.”;