On the USF football teams ever-changing offensive line, racked by injuries, the Bulls will look to new players to establish a consistent running game against Connecticut on Saturday.
The newest addition to the roster brings a name that is appropriate for the physicality of his position: Redshirt freshman Thor Jozwiak, whose name comes from the comic book character known for his strength a trait the Bulls will need when they face the No. 10 rushing defense in the nation.
My father was a big Thor comic book fan, and he always wanted to name his son Thor, the 6-foot-4, 309-pound guard said. My grandmother told him hed have to find a woman who would be willing to name her son Thor, and he sure did, she was all for it.
The Eagle Lake, Fla., native said owning up to his name was made easier by his larger size.
I was always a bigger guy, so it was a bit easier to carry, he said. Then on Halloween I just say Im going as Thor, and I could just go as myself.
The Bulls will begin Saturdays game with five underclassmen on the offensive line, with the challenge of continuing a strong running game against the Huskies, who are allowing 118 yards per game on the ground.
Jozwiak won the open competition held for the replacement of senior Mark Popek who was injured in the teams loss to Louisville and started his first game against Syracuse last weekend.
The feeling of the first start as a young guy was pretty intense, he said. I actually had to calm my nerves a little bit. But running out of that tunnel knowing that youre the guy is a really special feeling.
Though the Bulls lost their sixth straight game, Jozwiak said the success USF had on the ground was a strong statement made by the offensive line as a whole.
As an offensive lineman, we dont really get a lot of the glitz and glamour or statistics, but knowing that your running backs and quarterback had 369 total rushing yards is a pat on our backs, he said. We work so hard to come off the ball and push the guys back, so 369 yards sends a good statement.
Despite another challenge Connecticuts strong run defense coach Skip Holtz said he is
encouraged by the play of the young offensive line, which led the way for 197 rushing yards against a Louisville defense that allowed 115 rushing yards per game after Popek was injured, and 269 rushing yards against Syracuse which entered the game allowing 35 rushing yards per game in conference play.
With five underclassmen likely starting on the offensive line against Connecticut this weekend, fans could get a look at the future of the teams front five. Jozwiak said the group has begun to develop chemistry.
(Playing together) definitely builds a bond, he said. Playing next to Darrell Williams this weekend, we already have some calls with each other where we know what to say and when to say it. The chemistry that we build will just help us get better each year, so playing with a younger guy makes it a little bit more fun.
Though the offensive line has had success, Holtz said the line will need to continue to develop to
respond to increased attention from defenses.
We have to continue to develop and continue to grow, because every week the challenge will escalate, he said Tuesday. This week you play a team in Connecticut that is the 10th-ranked defense in the country Theyre watching film and being told we will run it down their throats. So they will load the box and try to stop the running game, which is why we need the balance on offense with our passing game.