MESA — Rattlers center Jordan Mudge appreciates the importance of his job, lining up in front of quarterback Nick Davila.
“You’re protecting a franchise quarterback. It’s something that you don’t take lightly,” Mudge said. “We’re trying to be the best and trying to be great, so we have to come out here and perform.”
Mudge is part of a completely new offensive line for the Rattlers this season. Not a single member of the line was with the team a year ago. Mudge, Hayworth Hicks, Dionte Savage, Lamar Mady and Michael Simons are all newcomers.
They are currently ranked fourth among the eight teams in the league in sacks allowed, allowing six in nine games to date.
Davila was confident from the start that this newly-formed group would do a good job of protecting him.
“I had faith in the coaching staff. They always do an excellent job of getting guys to come play here in the Snake Pit,” Davila said. “They’ve done an excellent job all year, so I’m happy that they’re blocking for me.”
Davila said his job is made easier if he’s playing behind a line he can trust.
“That’s huge for a quarterback as far as going through his progressions and his reads, if he has time to dissect the defensive coverage and be able to make plays and have a clean pocket,” Davila said.
Davila said strong line play is a critical part of the game, no matter what level.
“That’s huge in any football you play, whether you play on Sundays or whether you play arena football or high school or college,” Davila said. “If you can protect the quarterback, you’re going to be successful on offense.”
What may help this offensive line perform its job so well is the closeness that has developed between its members.
“We’re definitely starting to really come together as a unit,” Mudge said. “We’re really starting to bond well, hanging out together, getting to know each other.”
This closeness also helps make in-game communication more seamless.
“It really makes it helpful in the game. We’re able to talk to each other better, and we’re really starting to get there,” Mudge said.
Mudge said they have fun together, which he sees as important to their success.
“We have our jokes with each other. We all like to give each other a hard time,” Mudge said. “That’s when you really come together as a team, once you feel comfortable being able to do that.”
Davila said the trust among teammates that comes from familiarity is the most important lesson anyone can take away from football.
“That’s what football’s about and that’s what it teaches you,” Davila said. “You have to trust the next man up and the man next to you, and when you get, in our case, eight guys on the field that trust each other and won’t let each other down, that’s a huge thing.”
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