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Georgia Southern revamps offensive line
GS offensive line
Georgia Southern offensive line coach Richard Owens, center, directs his squad through drills during a practice on Thursday at Beautiful Eagle Creek. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

There's no doubt the Georgia Southern Eagles have a loaded backfield with plenty of talent, but if there are no holes to run through. Passing and running success are not entirely independent functions as they depend on the offensive line holding their blocks and opening up holes for the backs to run through. 

This is precisely why Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton said one of the biggest hires he made in the off season was the hiring of Richard Owens as the offensive line coach. 

Owens, who is also the Eagles run game coordinator, comes to Georgia Southern after three successful seasons as the offensive line coach at UAB.  

In 2021, his line led the way for an offense that averaged 386 yards per game (180 rushing, 206 passing) with 43 offensive touchdowns (27 rushing, 20 passing). The Blazers capped a nine-win season by putting up over 400 yards of offense in an Independence Bowl win over No. 13 BYU.  

Owens played collegiately on the offensive line at Arkansas and went on to play five seasons in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams and New York Jets. 

"Richard is known in our profession for producing physical, tough and disciplined offensive line units,” said Helton. “His offensive line was a huge reason for UAB's success over the past three seasons. His units have brought impressive numbers both in the running game and protecting the quarterback. Richard understands what it takes to play at the highest level having been a part of the NFL for five seasons.” 

Owens inherits an offensive line with plenty of experience playing, but not necessarily a lot of experience blocking in the passing game. 

“The guys are putting in the time and we are progressing every day,” said Owens. “The first group has looked really good but recently we are starting to develop depth as well. They are starting to understand what we are asking from them from a technique standpoint as well as an effort standpoint.” 

Owens and the rest of the staff knew coming in it could take some time, not only learning to do things the way they want things done but learning new terminology as well.  

“We understand this is a totally new offense for them to learn,” said Owens. “At the end of the day football is football. They will learn the verbiage and what things are called now but it is still things they have been doing for years.”  

Among the changes for the veterans longtime guard Brain Miller has moved to tackle and Owens has also liked what he has seen from sophomore Rasheed Miller. Helton sees the progress and is confident the offensive line will be one of the strengths of the 2022 team. 

“We knew this was a dang good run team and that is where they have excelled,” aid Helton. “But I see the growth in them becoming great pass protectors as well. We tell them if you have NFL aspirations that is a passing league. They pass the ball 35 times and run the ball 35 times. We hope to have that balance here as well.”