May 25, 2024

Bryce Benhart striving for success along Nebraska’s offensive line

Nebraska Cornhuskers Football

Nebraska offensive lineman Bryce Benhart (54) blocks Illinois linebacker Gabe Jacas (17) on a passing play during the third quarter Friday October 6, 2023 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Huskers’ big boys up front are paving a way for the offense to dive deeper into the playbook, and it’s bringing excitement to the players, especially Bryce Benhart.

After all, Nebraska is coming off a double-digit road win over Illinois, and has momentum entering its’ bye-week. With 35 career starts, Benhart’s experience and leadership has been an integral part in the unit’s production this fall. The Huskers have won three of their past four games with solid play along the offensive line, and defense.

There’s a reason why Nebraska is second in the Big Ten, and 21st in the FBS in rushing offense. The offensive line has blocked at the point of attack, mauled defenders and opened up holes for the running plays. Benhart has a big responsibility with holding down the edge at right tackle, and he’s doing a good job minimizing the opposition’s pass rush.

Last Friday’s clash was memorable to Benhart because the Huskers persevered, and overcame adversity to pull out a victory in a hostile environment.

“It was a fun game, came out and we just wanted to play as a team,” Benhart said. “We played like that on all sides of the ball, special teams, defense, we wanted to play as a team, and that’s what it really came down to for us.”

Nebraska’s offensive line was physical, had good hand placement, and only allowed one sack. Not to mention the Huskers led the Fighting Illini in yards, plays, first downs and time of possession. Benhart understands that doesn’t happen without the five players up front doing their job.

However, it was a circus at the line of scrimmage for many reasons. Nebraska (3-3) committed a season-high, 10 penalties, and a lot those came from the offensive line. Illinois’ defensive line was causing confusion throughout the night, and Benhart knew Nebraska had to make adjustments.

“Stemming, movement, them just suddenly yelling something that’s all,” he said. “Sometimes you’re so locked in at doing one job, that the small thing just catches you off guard.”

The trenches are no joke in the physical Big Ten, so Benhart takes pride in anchoring the offensive line. Benhart and his teammates are a close-knit group, and more like a brotherhood. After Ethan Piper went down with an injury against the Fighting Illini, everyone stepped their game up. With Piper’s status still up in the air, Benhart knows the room has a slim margin for error the rest of the way.

Still, he’s encouraged about the direction of the offensive line. The Huskers will only go as far on offense as their offensive line will take them. Which is why Benhart wants the group to be a team strength, and not a liability. Nebraska’s offense could be a lot better without all of the fumbled snaps, and penalties killing its’ drives. The time off should help iron out those wrinkles though.

In game five’s loss Michigan showed Nebraska the blueprint of how an elite offensive line operates in the Big Ten. The Huskers’ front five are nowhere near on that level, or the glory days from the 1990’s, but Benhart feels everything is looking promising up to this point.

“We’ve come a long way from the past couple of weeks, we’re still learning, but we play as a team.”