In the near future, an NFL team may lock Kenyon Green into a starting spot on the offensive line for the next decade or so.
At the moment, Texas A&M has no such luxury. The Aggies are trying to rework a dominant offensive line that was gutted by graduation after last season and hit hard by injuries this year.
The win over No. 1 Alabama with the fifth different starting line configuration in six games just may have been the moment that A&M has been seeking. Saturday’s game at Missouri will provide an indication of whether A&M can maintain the momentum.
The Aggies didn’t allow a sack or even a hurry by Alabama and third-year quarterback Zach Calzada looked like a different player with a clean pocket. A&M rushed for 110 yards — not great — but enough to keep the defense honest.
“They improved,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday. “We did a great job protecting the quarterback. … We were able to run the ball in short-yardage situations, red-zone type situations and establish some good balance during the game, which is critical. They’re getting much better. They’re learning to be more physical.”
More than ever, Green is the indispensable piece and may be the answer to the offensive line woes after being named an All-American left guard last season. He’s played both offensive tackle and offensive guard spots through six games this season and was named a Lombardi Trophy semifinalist Wednesday. Going back to the Orange Bowl last season where he had a few snaps at center, Green has seen action at all five O-line positions.
“He is the most selfless, one of the most selfless, great players I’ve ever been around as far as his willingness to do whatever his team needs him to do. He’s a throwback in what he does,” Fisher said this week, offering a scouting report on Green.
“I think he’s a tackle, I do, because of his arms and length, but he has power and there’s very few people that have the ability to play all those positions and do well. And what he’s doing now is increasing his value to the next level, in my opinion, because people are going to see him at different things.”
Green understands A&M’s situation and says he has no preference about where he’s used.
“It’s really just going out there,” Green said. “I’m a team player. Whatever my team needs me at, I’m going to handle my business and make sure that I’m focused and ready to play whatever position I need to play to get a win.”
Green got his versatility naturally.
His father, Henry, trained him at different positions growing up, helping him learn different techniques.
“It’s been instilled in me since I was little,” Green said.
As valuable as Green is, it was everything clicking around him – finally – that gives A&M hope for this season.
The offensive line perhaps defined A&M’s physical, enforce-their-will mindset more than anything a year ago. Along with quarterback, it emerged as the biggest question mark this season after consecutive losses to Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Luke Matthews is now out for the season after projecting as the starter at center. Three more potential regulars have missed significant time.
While Green has 29 career starts, the remainder of the starting offensive line against Alabama had 15 total. Center Brice Foster and right tackle Reuben Fatheree II are true freshmen starting in the SEC.
“In this league? It’s unbelievable. It really is,” Fisher said. “I mean, it’s a heck of a deal. The injuries have hurt us and what we’ve had to do and had to put them in situations, unfortunately, I don’t want to put them in. And they have been unbelievably tough, mentally tough.”
Another key component was sophomore Blake Trainor moving to left guard and Green sliding to right tackle.
“He did a great job, came in just ready to play,” Green said. “You know, I can see it in his eyes. He was focused, you know, mentally and physically prepared to play.”