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
  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.
    The Pete Dye course, ranked No. 45 on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses and No. 9 on Golfweek’s ranking of Best Modern Courses, will host 160 of the best junior golfers from 40 states during the 72-hole stroke play event.

    July 30, 2014

  • Scott sees swift title contention for Lakers

    Byron Scott was a key component of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Showtime teams, a smooth shooting guard with sizzling competitive fire. He believes his purple-and-gold championship pedigree makes him the ideal coach to return the struggling 16-time champions to NBA contention.
    “This organization is all about championships, period,” Scott said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at (NBA) championships. And we know we have some work ahead of us, but I’m excited. ... I love challenges anyway, so this is going to be fun.”

    July 30, 2014

  • Opinion: People running NCAA may not be bumbling idiots

    Two down, one big one to go.
    And with it a growing realization that maybe the people running the NCAA aren’t the bumbling idiots everyone has been making them out to be.
    The NCAA’s agreement Tuesday to create a $70 million fund to diagnose concussions and brain injuries does more than just give some former and current athletes a bit of peace of mind — if no real money. It also extricates the organization from another serious threat to its existence, one that could have potentially bankrupted it if everyone who ever suffered a concussion playing college sports were somehow able to cash in.

    July 30, 2014

  • Steelers Camp Footbal_time2.jpg Bell looking for more decisive, productive season

    Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
    There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.
    Sometimes, one would appear. Sometimes it wouldn’t, mainly because whatever sliver of daylight existed had already been swallowed by darkness while Bell was still trying to read the blocks in front of him.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • dungy0725 (1).jpg Rice, Dungy sideshows stain NFL

    The National Football League guards its reputation as aggressively as lineman are paid to protect a quarterback.
    So, as training camp opens around the country, how odd is it to see Commissioner Roger Goodell’s 32-team NFL empire battling bad headlines and stinging criticism from all quarters?
    Anyone want to talk to the new quarterback for his early assessment of playing with the best and biggest players in the land? That would be business as usual. Nothing has been routine about the early days of camp this season.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Post 17 #7 Post 2 #12 mw.JPG DeVaul wraps up final season as Post 17’s leader

    If you were to ask players on Fairmont American Legion Post 17’s roster who they looked up to, you’d find a familiar pattern.
    Sure, you may get some Andrew McCutchens or some Derek Jeters as replies. But if you want to find out the real answer, just look into the dugout.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Return to Mountain State exciting for new sports writer

    When I packed my belongings out of my Morgantown apartment in May, fresh with a journalism degree from West Virginia University, I thought I had ended a chapter of my life and closed the book on my experience inside the great Mountain State forever.
    It wasn’t until I received a phone call back in my hometown of Canton, Ohio, from the Times West Virginian that the idea of a return to the area became a possibility. The opportunity to begin my professional career in an area that I’ve become comfortable with for the past several years was too good to pass by.

    July 29, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Photos
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings