Florida International U

This veteran offensive lineman takes the health and safety of FIU QBs personally

FIU guard Jordan Budwig.
FIU guard Jordan Budwig. FIU Athletic Communications

If a defensive back blows a coverage, it could lead to a touchdown. But if an offensive lineman misses a pass-block, it could get his quarterback seriously injured.

That latter possibility is a reality that FIU guard Jordan Budwig lives with every game.

“I take a lot of pride,” Budwig said, “knowing that we are responsible for somebody’s life back there.”

That’s perhaps a bit melodramatic. No quarterback that we know of has yet died from a sack … but you get the point.

“That’s not something to play around with,” said Budwig, referencing the health of the quarterbacks he and his fellow offensive linemen protect. “That’s something we take seriously.

“Things happen in a game — you give up a sack. But you can’t let it affect you too far. You are always going to be disappointed in yourself [after a sack], but it’s on to the next play. That’s how we’re trained. You come in on Sunday [to watch game film], and you look at it and try to get better.”

FIU allowed 29 sacks last season, but coach Butch Davis is comforted in knowing he has a veteran group of blockers this year. Every starter returns from last season — four seniors and a third-year sophomore.

“It’s very advantageous to have a lot of guys in that [offensive linemen’s] room who have a lot of playing experience,” Budwig said.

“Being able to see the guy next to you and trust that he knows what he’s doing is really the most important thing about the offensive line.”

Budwig, meanwhile, said he enjoys all aspects of playing offensive line, especially when things are clicking and the Panthers are on the move.

“I think run-blocking is the better part of my game,” he said. “I enjoy getting physical.

“But I also like when we throw an 80-yard touchdown and run off the field and go celebrate.”

THIS AND THAT

Entering Wednesday’s third scrimmage, the quarterback battle between James Morgan and Christian Alexander is even, according to Davis. FIU opens against visiting Indiana on Sept. 1, but there is no telling when the starting QB will be announced.

“It’s been a great competition,” Davis said. “We will decide when it’s clear, but I have loved watching the way they compete against each other and the way they help each other.

“Every day, they are talking coverages, they are talking routes and protections. More than likely, both will play in the first game.

“They both have played really well. Neither has played poorly to allow the other one to separate himself. They have challenged themselves to be better.”

Sage Lewis said he is comfortable having switched this year from outside linebacker to the middle:

“I get leadership guidance from [Anthony] Wint,” said Lewis, referencing last year’s starting middle linebacker who is now with the New York Jets. “I talk to him almost every day. We talk about things that I can work on — he coaches me.”

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