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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Mother Nature’s interruption Saturday became a teaching moment for Iowa’s offensive line.

When the Nevada game came to a halt for the first of three lightning delays in the third quarter and the team returned to the locker room, offensive line coach George Barnett got his hands on a chalkboard, gathered his charges around him and started teaching.

“That group is a little young, so there’s a lot going on there,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It was the chance maybe for an extra session.”

Barnett discussed what the Nevada defense was doing, and reviewed some of the plays Iowa might run when the game resumed.

“When you’ve got a delay, you’ve got to take full advantage of it,” left tackle Mason Richman said.

A redshirt sophomore, the 6-6, 308-pound Richman is a key piece to the youth movement Ferentz mentioned. He’s started 15 of the last 18 games at left tackle, and his upside is hard to miss.

And even though the offensive statistics don’t reflect it, Richman feels like there’s something special building across the line.

“I’ve been feeling this rhythm since camp started,” Richman said. “I knew it was not going to be easy at the start, and it never is. Because you start going against other guys. And guys like me, young guys, we all start to tighten up a little and maybe be too aggressive. You want to go out and hit somebody on the other team.”

Richman feels the rhythm of the offensive line each day in practice. It might be one step forward, two steps back, but the big picture is appealing.

“There’s really no worry of chemistry,” Richman said. “It’s just getting that rhythm out on the field. Last week a lot of it showed, and we’ve still got more to show this year.”

Junior left guard Nick DeJong is the elder statesman among the starters. Center Logan Jones and right tackle Connor Colby are sophomores and right guard Beau Stephens is a redshirt freshman.

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The offensive line two-deep consists of two seniors (Jack Plumb, Matt Fagan), a junior (DeJong), four sophomores (Jones, Richman, Colby, Tyler Elsbury) and three redshirt freshmen Stephens, Gennings Dunker, Michael Myslinski).

“I think we’re gaining ground, but we’re not there,” Ferentz said. “There’s still some little things that we can do a lot better, and that gets back to experience.”

Injuries to upperclassmen has also slowed the development of the offensive line.

“When you get guys that are a little bit younger in their development, it’s a little bit of a strain,” Ferentz added. “I think we’re chasing the clock there. I’m encouraged because I think there’s potential to be pretty good.”

Richman sees much better days ahead, though the learning curve will speed up with the arrival of Big Ten play starting Saturday at Rutgers.

“Young courage is one of the strongest things you have out there,” Richman said. “You see a young guy out there and he might not know what he’s doing, but he’s going 100 percent because he wants to play. A lot of guys have that great motivation, and it’s a great learning tool. The sky’s the limit for this group.”

Iowa enters league play last in the Big Ten in total offense, but any negative buzz hasn’t found its way to Richmand’s ears.

“I don’t take it personally,” he said of criticism. “I’m off social media now. The fans outside, that’s just outside noise to us. Whatever happens inside that building and inside that meeting room, that’s all we’ve got. I chose those guys and my coaches’ opinions the most. As long as we get better as a team, and as an offensive line, that’s going to contribute in a majority of ways. Work on yourself. That’s a big motto we have. The biggest thing we have to worry about is improving as a team. That’s why we’re such a great developmental program.”

Richman sounds like a coach when he speaks. That’s not by accident. He wants to coach football when his playing days are over.

“People ask, what do you want to major in, what do you want to study?” said Richman, a sport and recreation management major from Leawood, Kan. “I like to think of myself as a pretty decent student. But I love football more than anything. I love it and breathe it. I’m always around sports. I just want to be around it the rest of my life.”

Richman looks to Ferentz as someone he wants to emulate in the years ahead. He said that Barnett has also been a source for his motivation to coach.

“Just being a part of football and changing people’s lives is a really important thing to be,” Richman said.