TOWSON, Md. - Although it rained for most of the morning, the Tiger football team braved the elements and conducted its ninth practice of the pre-season at Unitas Stadium on Thursday.
Although the rain was heavy at times, the Tigers kept on working. When practice ended at a little before 11 a.m., they had done almost two-and-a-half hours of work.
Despite the rain, Offensive Line Coach John Donatelli and his offensive linemen had a strong workout. Although the offensive line returns a number of starters, Donatelli already misses the one player who graduated - Henry Glackin.
"We lost such an outstanding leader in Henry Glackin," Donatelli lamented. "The coaches realize what a great leader he was. I am not sure that the players know it.
"Henry showed all of them how to be leaders," Donatelli added. "Now, it's up to them to lead."
Last season was a very good one for the Tigers' offensive line. The Tigers' linemen helped the offense average nearly 35 points per game while the Tiger running game led the Colonial Athletic Association by averaging 229.9 yards per contest.
The offensive line was a major reason that Towson won its first Colonial Athletic Association championship last season and made its first trip to the NCAA FCS playoffs.
"Last year was very rewarding," Donatelli recalled. "We were committed to the run and we were good at it. Our offensive linemen kept playing hard even when we made some mistakes. In addition, we had some excellent backs who knew where to run."
The Tigers return four starters from their offensive line last year.
Junior Eric Pike, who has started 23 consecutive games, returns at left tackle while junior Doug Shaw is back at center. In addition, juniors Anthony Davis, Charles Johnson and Randall Harris all saw plenty of action last season.
"When we talk about the O-line, it is more than just the first five guys," Donatelli explains. "We are talking about eight or nine guys. We have the potential to have better depth this season."
Donatelli says it is an advantage to have so many experienced linemen. He says, "It gives us the ability to change plays and take advantage of the defense. When you have young linemen, it is harder to check from pass to run. With young guys, you have to keep things simple.
"Now that they have some experience, their minds should be clearer," he adds. "The game has slowed down for them.
"One of the best things last year was our ability to handle adversity," Donatelli says. "It didn't matter what was happening. We just kept playing - six seconds at a time."
The Tigers will hold their Fan Day on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Unitas Stadium.
Season tickets for Towson University football are on sale now by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at 1-855-TU-TIGER or going online to TowsonTigers.com. Season ticket packages begin at $55 per seat.