The Times West Virginian

Sports

April 10, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU o-line bonding in early going

MORGANTOWN — Let us understand that considering the style of football West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen plays, the absolutely most critical, crucial item that must be accomplished by the time the football season begins on Aug. 31 is to come up with a quarterback who can run his offense.

That having been said, it doesn’t mean a thing if he turns Paul Millard or Ford Childress into a combination of Geno Smith, Pat White and Major Harris if he can’t put together a solid offensive line, which may actually be the first objective of the spring.

“Offensive line is the most important position on your team,” Holgorsen admitted. “I have said it for years. You have to get a bunch of good and capable guys just based on graduation, that is where all our issues are right now.”

Having lost center Joey Madsen and guards Jeff Braun and Josh Jenkins and having brought in a new offensive line coach in Ron Crook from Stanford, the work has been intensely approached with more to do than just learn the plays and techniques.

And, just to complicate matters, injuries have already taken away badly from what they were trying to do.

The key element in the line was moving Pat Eger from tackle to center — he also has played guard — and after a shaky start in which the exchange between center and quarterback was a misadventure at best he began to settle in nicely.

Then came an ankle injury, seemingly not serious enough to threaten his spring but enough to interrupt the work he was putting in.

“It is recruiting, which means we try and make the best decisions that we possibly can, but you really don’t know what you are going to get until they are here practicing,” Holgorsen said when asked about the newcomer. “We thought enough about Stone to recruit him as a center. We knew we were thin at that position. We had no returning center coming back. The three guys that snapped the ball in the fall are all gone.

“You got to have two to three centers on your team. It is like the quarterback position — if you have two, you get nervous so you really need to have three guys that can snap anyways. We are trying to develop two guys that we feel good about and will add him to the equation and add all three to compete in the fall, and then we will make a decision on who is one, two and three.”

While this internal battle goes on and while players fight it for the guard spots — all of them except Adam Pankey, who is out with knee surgery — Crook is involved in another area of putting together and offensive line and that is brotherhood.

On any football team, it seems that that closest knit group is the offensive line.

For whatever reason, partly because they like to eat a lot — honest — and partly because they often are among the top academic students on the team, they seem to hang together more as a group and that is something Crook is encouraging as he puts this group into a unit.

“They are developing into a strong, cohesive group. That’s critical with an offensive line. They are doing things together. They’re with each other all the time, constantly pushing each other, constantly looking after each and taking care of each other. That’s the biggest thing I like as a whole,” he said.

As they come together they also develop leadership and to date the leader has been returning starter Quentin Spain, a 335-pound mountain of man whose public persona was quiet last year as he learned the ropes but who is emerging as a force on the field and in the locker room.

“He is kind of the leader, kind of the guy who keeps things light a little bit,” Crook noted. “It’s always good to have one of those guys, but when it comes time to play, he’s ready to play.”

And Spain is going to be a good one. Rest assured you will see much of WVU’s running game being behind his big body.

“He likes to play physical, he’s focused. He comes off the ball low and hard and has a lot of strength in his punch,” Crook said.

At the other tackle there is a battle developing between a pair players who are different styles in Curtis Feigt and Nick Kindler, who has been pushing Feigt for the starting job.

“I hope one of the two of them fights for the job and wins it because they are the two rotating at the position right now,” Crook said. “They kind of play off each other. Nick is a really athletic guy and controls his body well and Curtis is a big, strong physical guy. They are improving on a regular basis. I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out.”

At the guards, it’s all new players like Mark Glowinski and Marquis Lucas, but losing Pankey hurt the depth because he was almost certain to be a starter.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes

    Last week we told you about a proposal that would extend the summer practice period for West Virginia high schools.
    It’s already cleared the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Board of Control. Now it’s up to the West Virginia Board of Education to decide if the current three-week window should be expanded by five weeks.

    April 16, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates finish off suspended game, fall in nightcap

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole’s winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • EFHS Softball - CB.jpg East can’t overcome No. 7 Lincoln, falls, 4-0

    Thunder clouds weren’t the only thing looming over the East Fairmont (6-6) softball team Monday when the Lady Bees hosed No. 7 Lincoln. Joining the ominous clouds was a sense of urgency for energy that never showed up as Lincoln was able to shut out East Fairmont, 4-0.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos