Over the course of four seasons, Mike Marboe was the definition of consistency along the offensive line for the Idaho Vandal football team. From his redshirt freshman year all the way to his final game at Appalachian State last season, the former Vandal started 47-straight games at center for Idaho.
With Marboe’s graduation, it will now be up to junior offensive lineman Steven Matlock to fill his void at center.
“Once Mike left, I knew I had to take that position over and step into a leadership role,” Matlock said. “I think I’m doing a fairly good job, still have some things I need to learn.”
Matlock’s offensive line coach, Kris Cinkovich, sees the improvements his new center has made.
“I think he’s starting to take seriously that leadership role in the middle of the line,” Cinkovich said. “He’s a strong guy, not very big, but he’s really strong. He’s gotta battle Ryan Edwards everyday and he’s been doing a good job.”
In their time together, Matlock said Marboe was a mentor to him.
“When he was here I learned a lot of things from him and so when he was here I asked him a lot of questions,” Matlock said. “We did our test together on the plane. I pretty much learned everything from him.”
While it might be Matlock’s first crack at the center position, he is no stranger to a role along the offensive line.
Matlock, a Boise native, came to Moscow in 2013 and earned a role as the Vandals’ quick guard, in which he started eight games as a true freshman — one of 13 true freshman at the FBS level to start that year on the offensive line.
Last season, it was much of the same. As a sophomore Matlock played in all 11 games, eight of which came at the quick guard position.
With all of the playing time he has received, Cinkovich expects Matlock’s confidence to be high, as he gets ready for his junior campaign.
“He’s played a lot of football here,” Cinkovich said. “He does a good job in the weight room, he’s getting some confidence now and he should be a good football player for us — and we expect him to be.”
Last season, the Idaho offensive line gave up 41 sacks, which was tied for eighth worse in the country. In 2013, it wasn’t any better as the team finished first in sacks allowed with 53.
“Being ranked one of the last teams for sacks isn’t the greatest,” Matlock said. “We’re the answer, not the question anymore. That’s what we believe in and that’s what we’re striving for and we’re going to make a change and that’s the bottom line.”
Despite the struggles, Matlock said the whole offensive line group is keeping a positive outlook on the upcoming season.
“Our whole o-line, our whole meeting room is just filled with passion and energy,” Matlock said. “We go in there, we laugh a lot and make so much noise coaches can hear us down the hallway … hopefully we can transition that from the meeting room onto (the field) and make good plays.”
Korbin McDonald can be reached at email@example.com