Zac Epping has made 34 consecutive starts on the Gophers offensive line, and he thinks that unit is capable of big things this year.
“I think we can be the best O-line in the Big Ten and possibly the country,” he said. “We have the size, strength, depth for it right now. We’ve just got to come in and perform and be consistent.”
Coach Jerry Kill thinks senior Tommy Olson will be one of best centers in the Big Ten. Epping is at left guard. Ben Lauer, who is recovering from a high ankle sprain, was a freshman All-American last year at left tackle. Junior right tackle Josh Campion has started the first 26 games of his college career.
The Gophers have Foster Bush at right guard, with the 6-9, 320-pound Jonah Pirsig knocking on the door for a starting spot. Brian Bobek is back to full health, backing up Olson at center. Kill said Isaac Hayes has been coming on strong at guard. And Jon Christenson (15 career starts) continues to recover from a serious broken leg injury.
Added up, the Gophers have 105 career starts on the offensive line.
Epping, a 6-2, 318-pound senior from Kenosha, Wis., doesn’t like dwelling on his own ironman streak.
“I really don’t think about it,” he said. “I mean, some of my teammates, my parents, my brothers – they’ll like talk about it. But I don’t like to keep track of that. Just got to stay healthy this year and keep going.”
Asked what it takes to compile a streak like that, he said, “You’ve just got to be consistent, never take a play off.”