The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

April 13, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN - WVU center moves on with help of beard

MORGANTOWN — There’s more of a new look with West Virginia University’s football team this spring than just Dana Holgorsen’s offense and seven different starters on defense.

The new look belongs to Joey Madsen.

The Mountaineers’ incumbent center showed up looking more the Mountaineer mascot than Brock Burwell himself, wearing a full, bushy beard that could hide a full-grown lion from the view of any passing prey.

“I’m trying to be a whole new me,” Madsen said. “That’s what the beard is about.”

There are some Mountaineer faithful who believe he should wear a disguise, for he was one of three players who missed last season’s Champs Sports Bowl loss to North Carolina State due to academic indifference.

While his team was in Charlotte, playing the game, Madsen was back home in Ohio with his family.

“The day of the game was the roughest day of my life. I watched the first series and I couldn’t stomach any more,” he said. “I turned it off. I couldn’t do it. I sat there, me and my mom, and talked the whole time.”

You can only imagine the feeling, and Madsen understands that there is some animosity toward him over his academic failure.

“It was a motivational thing,” he said. “I had some things going on.”

He left it at that, but admits it was a lesson for him.

“You learn that you have to support your team. It’s not about me,” he said. “My dad really helped me out with it. He told me you’re not the first one; you’re not the last one. Just move on.”

And part of moving on is the beard.

Madsen, despite his academic gaffe this winter, remains the heart and soul of the offensive line, one that eagerly awaits the new season to make amends for what really was a disappointing 2010 season. The changes in the offense, Madsen believes, will go a long way toward helping them heal those wounds.

It isn’t really the techniques that have changed, for blocking is blocking. It’s more in the approach.

“The only thing that changed is probably just the calls,” Madsen said. “It’s just so much quicker than what we did. There’s not 100 different calls. There’s just one call, get down and go. It’s more physical. We don’t think as much; we just go.”

You will never hear a lineman complain about having thinking cut back in favor of getting into action, and Holgorsen’s offense is all about action, even in the offensive line.

What’s more, those fears of having to learn a whole new system proved to be unfounded.

“We put the whole offense in in three days,” Madsen said. “I know everything, every call.”

The action starts with Madsen, not even with the quarterback, for they operate on a silent count.

“It’s on me the whole time,” Madsen said.

Madsen says everyone on the line is in love with the offense.

“It has uncomplicated things,” he said, inferring that Jeff

Mullen’s offense was slowed down by too many calls, too many reads. “It’s awesome. I love it. It’s way, way quicker, less thinking and more physicality.

“You don’t have to go through that process of, ‘Who do I got?’ It’s just come off the ball and whoever gets there gets there. We’re a quick team. We get on the ball and keep driving.”

The fast tempo puts the offense on the attack and has the defense on its heels.

It was something the Mountaineers did last year on occasion, the most notable being when they roared from behind on their final two possessions against Marshall.

“You saw last year the tempo killed teams. In the fourth quarter against Marshall, we just went tempo the whole time and just scored touchdowns,” Madsen said.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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