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Depth helps UT survive injuries on offensive line

10/19/2016, 12:09am EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

2 starters expected to return this week

Depth helps UT survive injuries on offensive line

Toledo's Corey Jones, right, outruns Bowling Green 's Tavaraus Wade for a touchdown Saturday at the Glass Bowl. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON

The University of Toledo football team received a scare when junior right tackle Elijah Nkansah and senior right guard Mike Ebert both left the Bowling Green game in the second half with knee injuries.

The veteran duo sat out of practice on Tuesday, but UT offensive line coach Mike Hallett said he expects the offensive line to be at full strength for the Central Michigan game on Saturday.

“Both of them are getting some treatment right now, but we expect them to be back here very quickly,” Hallett said.

After leaving the Bowling Green game, Nkansah was replaced by junior Brant Weiss. Junior Nate Jeppesen, who splits time at center with freshman Bryce Harris, moved over to guard to fill in for Ebert.

“We had a couple of guys that got dinged up, but we’ve had 12 guys that have played in a game for us this year extensively,” Hallett said. “Nate Jeppesen and Brant Weiss both went in and played very well. Nate’s been playing all year and so has Brant, so I think when injuries occur, the next guy has to jump in and take care of business and I think those guys did that very well in the second half. We’re going to prepare to have Mike and Elijah, but we feel like whoever’s turn it is, they are going to answer the call.”

Nkansah, a 6-foot-6, 315 pounder from Mason (Ohio) High School, started at right tackle all of last season, while Ebert, a 6-foot-6, 300 pounder from Sandusky Perkins, started all last season at right guard.

“They’re great players,” Hallett said. “They’re great leaders and have a ton of experience. We feel like they bring a lot of things to the table with their depth and experience that we certainly don’t want to go into games without.”

Weiss, at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, played in 11 games as a reserve offensive lineman last year and has appeared in four of Toledo’s six games this season.

Jeppesen, at 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, played in seven games last season and started one. He has appeared in all six games this season and gives the offensive line a great deal of versatility.

“He’s played guard and center throughout his career,” Hallett said. “He’s played some guard for us this year already and played extensively on Saturday and did a fine job. I think guard is a really good position for Nate. He’s a natural center, but I think guard fits him very well. We have a few different variations that can help provide us with depth and support on the offensive line.”

Senior left tackle Storm Norton said he was impressed with Weiss and Jeppesen as they filled in for Nkansah and Ebert last week and were part of the team’s game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

“Our mentality here is if someone goes down, you have to have the next man up,” Norton said. “Going into camp, one of our points of emphasis was having close to a nine-guy rotation,” Norton said. “Those dudes were prepared and when they had the chance to come in, they took advantage of it.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo