Ask Boise Burn head coach Brent Winter the key to his team's fast start in 2009 and he is quick and direct."I would not trade my o-line coach or my o-line for anyone in the league," Winter said. "Or half of A1 (Arena League) last year."The first-year head coach is then quick to praise his defense, among the stingiest in af2, as well as the quick maturation of rookie quarterback Taylor Tharp. But even those things often lead back to the Burn's talented offensive line."Taylor's confidence in his protection unit has helped him develop three times as fast as he normally would." Winter noted.It's a luxury not afforded to former Burn quarterback Royal Gill. Injuries, instability, and inconsistency along the offensive line in 2008 had the former Eagle High standout running for his life much of last season.Tharp, on the other hand, has scantly been touched in the first half of 2009.Tharp's "protection unit," linemen Palauni Ma Sun, Mark Fenton, and Richard Seals along with fullback Damian Walker, has allowed him to drop back comfortably, make his reads, and deliver accurate tosses to the talented receiving corps of Nichiren Flowers, Casey Allen, Jomo Wilson, and Jerard Rabb without fear of being blind-sided or hurried by the opposition's pass rush.Along the way, Tharp and Winter have found time to reward the big fellas for their work up front.On each play, one offensive lineman is eligible and the coaching staff has designed plays for the eligible lineman. Ma Sun and backup Eric Price have each caught touchdown passes while Seals (pictured above) took a screen pass for a big gain against Stockton earlier in May."It's a nice way to say 'thank you' to guys who are never full appreciated." Winter observed.Ma Sun, Seals, and Fenton... along with backups Marcis Fennell and Price along with Kyle DeVan (who signed with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts after three games in Boise)... have been an intregal part of the team's offensive development as the season has progressed and the head coach understands why."In order to have a great protection unit, you have to have the clay and the sculptor," Winter said. "(Offensive line) Coach (Kendall) Blackburn is a great sculptor of the clay."That clay includes Walker. Often times, an af2 fullback is a fourth offensive lineman and the coaching staff credits Walker's ability to pick up blitzing linebackers as a big part of Tharp's development.The Burn return home this Saturday, hosting the Amarillo Dusters at Qwest Arena at 7 PM. Tickets are available by calling the Qwest Arena box office at 208.331.TIXS.
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