The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 13, 2013

WVU trying to rebuild offense

MORGANTOWN — Even when you have the most experienced of teams, spring football practice is a time to experiment.

This is where you have time on your side, no opponent to get ready for and an take a look at things that might work.

When you are in the situation West Virginia’s offense is in, that being trying to rebuild everything from quarterback to receivers to offensive line, you feel like everything is an experiment and none may be more important than at center.

It matters not the sport, a good team’s strength is nearly always up the middle and in football you better have a good center and quarterback or little else matters.

WVU is in the process of replacing both, which has created competition at each spot, Paul Millard and Ford Childress at quarterback and Pat Eger and Tyler Orloski at center. While Millard and Childress are career QBs, Eger and Orloski are trying their hand at it out of necessity.

There awaits, too, in the fall the coming of Stone Underwood, a promising junior college player, but make no doubt that this is one of the key projects of the spring ... a project that was set back some when Eger, who started some last year at tackle and can play guard, suffered an ankle injury.

That gives Orloski, a redshirt freshman out of Cleveland’s fine St. Edward’s program, an opening.

“As far as I’m concerned, I think we’re all even on the line. I don’t see anyone has a solidified spot and everyone is trying to get the starting jobs,” Orloski said. “I’m just going to keep battling and see what happens.”

With Eger hobbled, Orloski has been able to run with the first unit, as uncertain as that unit with the Mountaineers having to replace Jeff Braun, Josh Jenkins at guard and Joey Madsen at center.

“I’m just trying to work hard at it. It’s the first time I ever played in a game situation with these linemen,” Orloski said. “It’s going well so far. It’s spring ball so you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Becoming a center caught Orloski by surprise.

“Maybe a kicker was the last thing I thought I would become, but a center was probably next,” he said.

However, he came not totally unprepared.

“When I was in high school my coach told me to learn how to snap,” he said. “‘There are only so many guys who can snap,’” he said. “‘If that gets you into the game, that’s where you want to be.’”

To make this an even more interesting spring has been that Orloski not only has to adjust to a new position, but a new position coach in Ron Crook, who came in from Stanford and has some new thoughts about the position.

“You can tell he comes from a Stanford program that was dominantly a running program. He brings in a different type of running style that we weren’t really used to,” Orloski said. “We put in power. It’s put us somewhere we haven’t been before. We were mainly a throwing team. I think it has put us into places we weren’t before.”

In truth the Mountaineers’ strength seems to be in its running game with depth at running back and unknowns at quarterback and receiver, but the running game is only going to be as good as the blocking that comes from an offensive line that revolves around center.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads