The spring has officially wrapped up after the Spring Game as players and coaches evaluate their performances to see where they have improved and what they need to work on come summer. As a unit, the Mountaineer offensive line feels that they have come together over the last two months after their final showing in the Spring Game
Four of the five starters from last year's team return excluding left tackle Don Barclay. The man who was put out there to replace him is big 6'5, 335 pound sophomore Quinton Spain. Spain is making the transition from right guard [which he played most of last season] to left tackle, the position he was originally recruited to play.
"I believe I improved a lot," Spain said. "But I still need to work on my hand placement and other stuff like that."
One area of concern for Spain was his ability to pass protect on Geno Smith's blind side, which is one of, if not the most important duties of a left tackle. With the coaching of Offensive Line Coach Bill Bedenbaugh, Spain thinks he has improved.
"It got better from what I was used to doing," Spain said. "I used to kick-out, but they kept telling me to kick-back so when I kicked straight back, it helped me a lot."
During last year's spring game, left guard Josh Jenkins injured his MCL and was forced to miss the entire 2011 season. This spring was the first contact Jenkins had since the injury and was not just looking to improve his game, but to stay healthy for his senior season.
"Don't get rolled up on," Jenkins said after the Spring Game when asked what his thoughts were prior to the contest. "I knew I wasn't going to play the whole game so I was worried about just getting out there and playing physical and keeping my feet moving at all times. That's the key to not getting hurt."
With that said, Jenkins says the worst thing you can do is play conservative and scared.
"I think when you play concerned, that's when you have the best chance of getting hurt," Jenkins said. "Of course it was in the back of my mind because this time last year, I did get hurt. You just can't go out there thinking it's going to happen again because the next thing you know, it could happen again."
Since he missed last season entirely, next year will be Jenkins' first year playing in Dana Holgorsen's offense.
"I think this is a pretty good offense," Jenkins said. "Coach Holgorsen does a really good job. You know what the best thing about this offense is? I get to experience this offense, but already have the experience from another offense."
With Jenkins return this season, senior Jeff Braun moves over to right guard after playing left guard in Jenkins' absence last season. Braun, who played right tackle his sophomore year, is moving back to his more natural side of the line.
"I'm pleased with the physicality that I brought this spring," Braun said. "I just had fun, that's the biggest thing. Spring can be monotonous, but you have to get better every day. If you don't come to practice every day with that will to get better, then you shouldn't be out there. I think I continuously got better each practice and maintained the high level of play that I need to."
Joe Madsen returns for his senior season as the starting center for the fourth year. Considered one of the best in the nation, he hopes to be in contention for the Rimington Award [which goes to the country's top center] at the end of the season.
Juniors Pat Eger and Curtis Feigt both return and the battle continues as the spring ends as to who will win the starting tackle spot, which was held by Eger last season.