WVU Offensive Line Looking Good This Spring - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Offensive Line Looking Good This Spring

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MORGANTOWN -

There are plenty of talented players on the West Virginia University offense. Guys like Quarterback Geno Smith, Wide Receiver Stedman Bailey, Inside Receiver Tavon Austin and Running Back Dustin Garrison seem to get most of the attention.

One of West Virginia's biggest strengths could be its offensive line.

"The first group looks good," Head Coach Dana Holgorsen stated. "They have a chance to be as good as we've had. Joe Madsen is a leader and is doing a fantastic job. He's a great player. Jeff Braun looks twice as good as he did in camp last year. He's in better shape, he's healthy and he understands. With Josh Jenkins coming back, he brings experience. Pat Eger is more confident than he's been, Quinton Spain is more confident. Those first-level guys are doing good things."

"This is a tough game and you have to love playing football," Offensive Line Coach Bill Bedenbaugh said. "Those first give guys, I know they love playing football. When you do that and want to be great, you're going to do everything it takes to be great and up to this point, those guys have done it."

This line is loaded with experience. Together, it has racked up 100 career starts.

"I think we have 100 combined starts coming back through seven guys," Bedenbaugh said. "I don't know that I have ever had that. It is obviously a luxury, but at the same sense we have to build depth. This group is hungry to prove they are pretty good. They are hungry to go out there and win games and prove they belong. So far they are doing a good job."

The biggest difference for the line this year is the addition of Senior Josh Jenkins. He took an injury redshirt last season following a torn ACL suffered in the Gold-Blue game.

Jenkins brings more than just experience to the line. He brings a different attitude to the huddle.

"Josh is one of the nastiest players I have played with," Tackle Pat Eger said. "He just has so much experience. Once he gets the system down, we're going to be going on all cylinders."

"It's important to be nasty out there because that is what football is about," Jenkins said. "It sets the tempo across the offensive line and makes everyone else want to be nasty and that is our goal."

Communication is a key ingredient to offensive line success. From the moment they approach the line of scrimmage, Center Joe Madsen identifies and calls out blocking assignments. That trickles down to the end of the line and ideally, every rusher will be blocked.

"Our communication is pretty good right now," Jenkins said. "It is very important because your assignment might change by someone moving on the line right before the snap."

"It all starts with Joe [Madsen]," Eger said. "He calls the front, calls the Mike linebacker. We all have to be on the same page because if some of us think we are going this way and some think we are going that way it is going to be a mess and somebody is going to be in Geno or the running backs faces real quick."

One glance at the opposing defensive lines around the Big 12 and it does not take long to realize they are going to be bigger week in and week out than what West Virginia previously saw in the Big East.

"We played Clemson and LSU and those were our two best games," Bedenbaugh said. "Hopefully these guys step up to the challenge. Every defensive line in the Big 12 is good. There are going to be mismatches and there are going to be guys that you are going to be playing every week that are going to be going to the NFL. If you are a competitor and love playing football then you have to play up to the challenge."

"Every week we want to go against the best players in the country because that is going to make you better," Eger said. "If you go against the best players and beat them, you show the country we are one of the best teams in the nation."

"We're real excited about the challenge of going to the Big 12," Jenkins said. "The guys are bigger, they are going to be faster. It's going to be a chance to show what we can do as an offensive line."

The line is asked to frequently protect Geno Smith. The Mountaineers threw 548 passes in 2011. They love to throw the ball, which puts the line in the position of pass protection more often than run blocking. Smith looks to stand in the pocket and pass the ball without taking off and running. The linemen say they respect Smith for showing that kind of faith in them.

"Nothing against the guys in the past because there have been some great quarterbacks around here that could take off and run, Pat White of course," Jenkins said with a smile. "It's nice to have a quarterback who sits back there and trusts the offensive line and is not worried about the hit. He is still going to deliver. He is just a tough kid and I really enjoy playing with him and blocking for him."

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