VIDEO: Mike Turner Interview
Carson-Newman's offensive line has had as much turnover this season as it has had at any point in the last five years. Patrick Priest, Jarvis Williams, Tyler Scott and Rimington Trophy-winning center Derek Evans all exit the program leaving Dan Gallman (Naples, Fla.) and Austin Lewis (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) as the only returning linemen with significant starting experience.
That's not to say Gallman and Lewis are inexperienced; they were both first team All-SAC selections in the preseason. Across the board though Turner has been pleased with the effort given to this point.
"They've worked hard in camp, and hard in the summer," Turner said. "All the installation is over with. Hopefully we've got folks settling in and slowing down their brains to where they can focus on technique and fundamentals. I'm proud of their effort and their attitude."
Gallman has started 26 consecutive games at tackle, while Lewis has 20 career starts under his belt at guard.
"Those two guys (Gallman and Lewis) have solidified the mood of the classroom," Turner said. "They've set the tone of this line. The other guys respect them. Austin and Dan know what it's like to work their way up the latter. They're helping to lay that next foundation."
Gallman and Lewis have helped clear the way for a pair of Harlon Hill Trophy Finalists (Andy Hibbett and Damian Baker), and they've seen a 1,300-yard rusher in each of the last two seasons.
Joining the fray at tackle will be Hunter Priest (Athens, Tenn.). Patrick Priest's younger brother made two starts on the line last year because of injuries. Stokes Rowe and Ben Clark could also factor in prominently up front.
Turner then pointed to redshirt freshmen Devon Mims and Bailey Feathers; true freshmen Jordan Seal, Will Boydston, and Jake Marr; and junior Micah Pressley, as players who round out the Eagles depth up front while also making an impact for a starting spot.
"The guys have put in the time and effort will end up playing," Turner said. "I'll know more a week from Thursday. We're trying to get five, six, seven and eight strong. You want to work to get strong so you can give a bunch of people game experience. We're big, we're strong. But we lack game experience, and the only way to get that is to play them under the lights."
Carson-Newman kicks things off Thursday, Sept. 1 at 1:30 p.m. against Humboldt State. The game will be broadcast on ESPN 3.