The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 23, 2013

Eger set to take center stage

MORGANTOWN — All eyes are naturally drawn to Pat Eger when he walks into a room,

First off, at 6-foot, 6-inches and 302 pounds, he fills the doorway completely.

Toss in blond hair that hangs down almost to his shoulders, although on this day he has it pinned up, and he has to be the center of attention as the West Virginia University Mountaineer players are meeting the media for the first time this spring.

And what could be more fitting than him being the center of attention, for this spring it is exactly what he is as the Mountaineers take a week off from practice for spring break.

It wasn’t long after the Pinstripe Bowl disaster that offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh approached Eger with a thought.

“Pat,” he said, “I might need you to play center this year, and we’re going to need you to start taking snaps in the 7-on-7s.”

For the last few years WVU was solid at center with Joey Madsen there, a player good enough there is talk he’ll wind up being drafted by an NFL team after being invited to the combine.

Madsen is gone now and, to be honest, no one has been groomed to take his place, hence the thought that maybe Eger can handle it.

A tackle last year, Eger was moved because tackle is a position of strength on the offensive line, while Eger has shown a great deal of versatility over his career.

“I’m ready to play center,” he said. “Wherever, if Coach Crook says play left tackle or if he says play right guard, I’m ready to play. I’ve played everything but center in my five years. Who knows? I might snap it to myself, throw it, run down the field and catch it.”

That play probably will not be put into the playbook, but the experiment of moving Eger to center rather than trying to rely on a newly recruited freshman is well under way.

And it hasn’t been easy.

See, because you can drive your Chevy down University Avenue doesn’t make you a NASCAR driver, and just because you can block as a guard or tackle doesn’t make you a center.

There’s this skill called snapping the ball involved, and so far Eger doesn’t have that mastered, not that anyone does when they first are moved there.

“It was rough,” Eger admitted. “The first day my snaps were all over the place. You’ve got to be able to snap the ball, punch with your off hand and step at the same time,” Eger said. “And you’ve got to do it while Shaq Rowell is drooling in his stance, ready to come off and smack you in the face.

“The steps and the snaps and the pad level were a little bit iffy the first day, but the goal is don’t make those same mistakes the next day.”

There is all this for Eger along with coming back from ankle surgery he underwent following the regular season, keeping him from being at full go as it is.

Eger does have something working for him in a big way. He is an intelligent player, and the center position is one that not only requires skill but it takes a strong mind to play, although Eger downplays that.

“You have to make the calls, of course, but when it comes down to it, it is everyone playing physical,” he said.

There is another matter complicating things, too, and that is the change in line coaches from Bill Bedenbaugh to Ron Crook, who has come from Stanford with some different techniques and philosophies.

This, however, is nothing new to Eger.

“I’m on my third offensive line coach right now. It’s been a blessing and a bad thing every time. I taken a little bit from Coach Dave Johnson, taken from Coach Bedenbaugh and now I’m taking from Coach Crook,” he said.

“At the end of the day, new coaches come in, and we work from there. There’s nothing you can do about it as a player.”

So, as you see, the transition is not an easy one.

But then no one ever said moving to center would be a snap.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • 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

House Ads
Featured Ads