By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University took a big hit in the heart of its offensive line losing its starting guards and center in Jeff Braun, Josh Jenkins and Joey Madsen, leaving new offensive line coach Ron Crook with quite a rebuilding job.
Slowly, things are coming together.
Tyler Orloski was moved from guard to center while mammoth Quinto Spain mans the left tackle spot and veteran Curtis Feight is at right tackle. The guards, however, are taking some figuring out as they battle for position and Crook tries to get eight players game ready.
Right now, among the backups, he has the veterans Pat Eger and Nick Kindler ready while the others spar for positions.
“We’re working toward two deep. Hopefully by the end of the week we’ll be close,” he said. “I think right now we’ll have seven at the start, and I feel good about that.”
The biggest fear is the inexperience at the three inside positions, which has forced them to think some of moving Feight inside.
“You go through just about every scenario you can when you are sitting in a staff meeting talking, but the other thing you have to remember in this offense is if you don’t have tackles with experience you are going to see some defensive ends and linebackers line up on the edge and it’s kind of scary.
“Even though they have experience you want them out there to protect the quarterback,” Crook said.
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As Dana Holgorsen was holding his Monday press conference, Kenny Chesney’s “Boys of Fall” began blaring over the weight room sound system and into the team room.
“Great song,” Holgorsen said. “We showed the video to the team this morning.”
And that video led to an interesting development.
“The very last picture is of Bear Bryant,” Holgorsen said. “He puts his hat on, looks at the chalk board and has some last thoughts for his team.”
When it ended, Holgorsen turned back to his team.
“How many of you know who that was?” he asked.
How many would you think would know one of the greatest football coaches of all time?
“About 10 to 15 percent of the team raised their hand. I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, 85 percent of our team didn’t know who Bear Bryant was.’ Got to educate them, I guess.”
Just a thought, knowing how current Alabama coach Nick Saban feels about the kind of football that Holgorsen and his contemporaries play, what does Holgorsen think Bryant would feel about the up tempo game of today?
“It would probably blow his mind,” Holgorsen admitted. “It’s quite a bit different.”
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Sen. Joe Manchin addressed the Mountaineers on the importance of WVU football to the state on Tuesday.
Manchin was a player at WVU until suffering a knee injury.
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West Virginia vs. Marshall in football?
No way, you say?
Well, probably not, but on a trip to Huntington this week, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, who already has revitalized the rivalry with Virginia Tech and Penn State, gave a little hope.
Just don’t hold your breath waiting.
“You never say never,” said Luck while in Huntington for a reception for WVU fans and alumni.
Luck, of course, has found a way to renew rivalries with Virginia Tech and Penn State.
It will, however, take some time to create a spot, although you might be collecting Social Security by the time it happens.
“I’m sure somewhere down the road we’ll play Marshall in football again, but we have no plans to do that right now,” Luck said.
“We’ve got Virginia Tech back on the schedule; we’ve got Penn State back on the schedule; we just have to finalize the years,” Luck said. “We’re working to get Pitt back on the schedule. There are a lot of schools we’d like to get on the schedule that are part of that power five group.
“I think you’ll find more and more of those so-called ‘power five’ schools playing games amongst themselves. Schools that aren’t in that group, it’s going to be harder to grab those marquee games.”
West Virginia swept all seven games of the “Friends of Coal” series.
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Obviously, almost everything has changed in college football in recent years, from the tempo the game is played at, to the conference affiliations, to the salaries head coaches now are paid, to the value assistant coaches now possess, driving their salaries toward $1-million-a-year.
There was a time when assistant coaches stayed put for much of their careers at one school or two and where they were promoted to head coach from within. Now, people go out and get experienced head coaches to jump and they bring their assistants, and it has become a richening but nomadic profession.
“It’s changing,” Holgorsen said during Big 12 Football Media Day in Dallas. “I remember that there’s been plenty of days when there hasn’t been a need for changing assistants because nobody leaves.
“I think I was on the same staff at Texas Tech for four or five years before it changed,” Holgorsen said. “I know Coach (Art) Briles has done a tremendous job of retaining his staff (at Baylor).
“But it’s changing. And those guys see … they see the need that some of the other staffs want to do what they’re looking at. How are they going to change that? They can’t come after me, so they come after the assistants to be able to do what we’re doing. I just use me as an example, but there’s been plenty of other examples across the country as well.”
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The Mountaineer Ticket Office has introduced two new features for Mountaineer fans purchasing single-game tickets for the upcoming football season. Customers are now able to utilize the new “Select Your Seats” feature on wvugame.com and also a new mobile delivery ticket method.
West Virginia fans buying single game football tickets will be able to access a new “Select your Seats” feature on wvugame.com.
Fans can utilize a new interactive map and seating chart of Milan Puskar Stadium to select the exact seat location to watch the game. The map also includes pictures of the view from each section to aid in the selection process. Fans can use “Select Your Seats” to find the best seats on the aisle, next to friends or the best available view to watch the Mountaineers.
After purchasing single-game tickets, customers will have the option to receive the tickets via mobile delivery. Mobile ticket delivery is an electronic delivery method by which tickets are emailed directly to the consumer immediately after a purchase. The emailed tickets are optimized for display on a smartphone device and can be scanned for entry at an event.
The mobile delivery feature can be used to send tickets as PDF files that are formatted for viewing on a smart phone or Apple Passbook files that can be stored as tickets on select Apple devices. PDF attachments may be used on any type of smartphone with a PDF viewer (such as Apple, Android, Windows, Blackberry, etc). Passbook files may only be used on Apple iPhones with the Passbook app.
Mobile tickets are individually barcoded allowing one scan per entry so any attempts to duplicate, alter or sell any copies of the mobile ticket may result in admittance being refused to the event. This provides heightened security by identifying counterfeit and stolen tickets.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.