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Johns Hopkins football welcomes back injured starting left guard Fernando Concepcion

Through the first five games, Johns Hopkins' offensive success was anchored by a reliable and consistent offensive line that had avoided injury and bred cohesion.

That unit has been tested in the past two games because starting left guard Fernando Concepcion was held out due to an unspecified injury. But the junior is slated to return in time for Saturday's game between the No. 9 Blue Jays (7-0 overall and 6-0 in the Centennial Conference) and Ursinus (6-1, 5-1) in what could be described as a de facto league championship game.

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"He was out a couple weeks ago," coach Jim Margraff said of Concepcion. "It was sort of a game-time decision. Last week, he was available, but we got off to the fast start. I was going to hold him off for the first half and then we just really didn't need to put him in. He's been full-go in practice and he'll play this week."

Sophomore Blake LaDouceur played in Concepcion's place in the team's 42-7 rout of Dickinson on Oct. 17, while senior Zach Lorenz started in a 37-14 pasting of Gettysburg on Friday night. Margraff said both played solidly.

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"They both have rotated the entire year," Margraff said. "We've been playing four guards when they're all healthy. Zach is a senior who is a very smart player, a savvy player. He's really playing the best football he has played in his career. Blake is a very talented player. He can play guard, he can play tackle, and we have him take center snaps every day. So he's a terrific player. They're both coming along."

Margraff didn't go so far as to declare Concepcion the starter for Saturday at the Bears, but acknowledged that Concepcion's return would be a boon for the offense.

"They all rotate so much that it really doesn't make a difference," Margraff said. "We've been playing four guards. [Junior right guard] Colin Egan is the sole starter in a sense and then the other three guys rotate so that we can give Colin a break, too. It's a good question, but it doesn't impact the number of snaps. Whoever goes in for the first series, I don't know if he ends up with more snaps than the guy who went in for the second series. We're playing a lot of guys.

"But we need Fernando back. He was playing at a high level before he got banged up, and it just helps the other guys. It helps with repetition and it helps with everyone staying fresh and well-rested."

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