Left Tackle Boyd Sees Significant Progress for Rhody's Offensive Line

Left Tackle Boyd Sees Significant Progress for Rhody's Offensive Line

KINGSTON, R.I. – Entering his fourth season in the program, Dino Boyd is the elder statesman of Rhode Island's offensive line. He brings an understated, matter-of-fact confidence to a unit that could be among the best in CAA Football this season.

The redshirt junior from Newark, N.J. is set to man the left tackle spot again this season. A year ago, he played all 11 games, making nine starts protecting the blind side for the Rhody quarterbacks.

"Building off of last spring, I think we have been doing a great job," Boyd said after practice Wednesday. "Coach (Keegan) Kennedy has been pushing us hard, and we have a couple of new guys who have improved our depth. Everybody has been working hard."

The hard work is evident. During one portion of Wednesday's practice, the Rams worked on third-and-short situations. Going first offense against first defense, the offense was able to convert four consecutive first downs.

Boyd – who has 17 career games under his belt – was pressed into action as a true freshman. Though the coaches would have preferred to redshirt him in 2014, Boyd more than held his own. With him on the line, Rhode Island rushed for 137 yards and 4.6 yards per carry at Richmond on Oct. 18, and then he helped Rhode Island rush for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games against New Hampshire and Stony Brook down the stretch of the season.

The following season, Boyd was able to redshirt, a move that he said has helped him significantly.

"That year was important for me. I was able to get stronger, get faster and learn how to play more physical," Boyd said. "The chance to redshirt gave me more time to understand the playbook, which was a good thing for my development."

Now Boyd is emerging into a leadership role up front, along with redshirt sophomore Dwayne Scott, the team's starting center.

"Dwayne and I have taken on the leadership roles," Boyd said. "I have become more vocal. That was the next step I had to take. I see my role as making sure the O-Line, the quarterbacks, the running backs and the entire offense keeps working hard. We have a chance to be great this year, but it's up to us to work every day toward that."

Boyd and his fellow linemen showed significant growth a year ago. Despite at times having four freshmen and a sophomore playing together, the Rams allowed the third fewest sacks in the league, 12 in 11 games. Only national champion James Madison (9) and Delaware (11) allowed fewer. Rhody also rushed for its most yards in four seasons, topping the 2015 rushing total by 625 yards.

"We have guys in place with both talent and experience, older guys who understand what it is we are doing," Boyd said. "Now we have to go out there and keep fighting. Everyone has been more communicative with each other. We are talking well on line stunts, and everybody knows the plays we are running. That aspect has been going good for us as a group."

Second-year offensive line coach Keegan Kennedy has been a major reason for the improved play up front, according to Boyd. Under Kennedy's watch, Boyd, Scott, redshirt junior Derek Allen (right tackle), and true sophomores Kyle Murphy (left guard) and Kevin Lawrence (right guard) have been cohesive. Senior Marcus Pantoja – who spent two seasons as a defensive tackle – also has worked with the first unit at times at center and both guard spots.

With redshirt freshman Sean Anderson and true freshmen Kareem Burton, Max Osgood and Brandon Doggett, the line appears to be set up nicely in terms of depth for both the present and near future.

"Coach Kennedy has been great for us," Boyd said. "Whether it's on the field or off the field, we can go to him. His is a great teacher, a great mentor and a great coach. Whether its drawing plays on the board, or giving us pop quizzes to make sure we know our assignments, he keeps us sharp. His style makes us more confident."