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The Weakest Link


According to all media outlets that cover Mountaineer football, including the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propoganda, better known as MSN, WVU's offensive line sucked in yesterday's scrimmage. And according to my eyes and WVU's record, the offensive line sucked last year, too.

The cause? Maybe 3 different coaches in 4 years. Maybe undersized, underskilled offensive linemen. Maybe it's because WVU is trying to learn "different techniques and schemes." Or maybe it's because Dave Johnson is the 3rd and worst of those 3 coaches in 4 years, and does not have the coaching ability to teach the technique and schemes needed to transform undersized, underskilled linemen into a force to be reckoned with.

Johnson's "professorial," "non-agressive" coaching style does not seem to be working. Even though the season is still 5 months away, there is reason to worry. The offensive line is the key to any offense. The 2008 offensive line's inability to make holes and move the pile in short yardage situations single handedly cost WVU 2, maybe 3 games. (Not the absense of Owen Schmitt).

Now the offensive line in 2007 was inconsistent, but still solid enough for WVU to average 295 yards rushing/game. Then in 2008, with all 5 starters returning, it was much worse. And it wasn't just in the new pass-blocking responsibilities. They also sucked run blocking. When everyone returns and regresses, the obvious answer as to why is the independent variable. Dave Johnson.

You can blame it on the absence of talent, but WVU hasn't had an offensive lineman drafted in the NFL since Lance Nimmo in 2003. Yet, WVU has always been able to mold average sized O-line into a top unit, at least until Dave Johnson's arrival.

For instance, the 2006 offensive line, which was the best at WVU in the current era started Ryan Stancheck, Greg Isdaner, Dan Mozes, Jeremy Sheffey, and Jake Figner. None of whom have been drafter (albeit, "yet.") Three of whom were starters on such a bad line last year.

So what have we learned? Our O-line has looked soft under Dave Johnson, and the offensive line is the motor that runs an offense. After the first year's performance and spring reports, I am not encouraged that is going to change anytime soon.

Which is very dissapointing, because he was one of the coaches I was most excited about, out of my respect for Mark Richt and Georgia. But I think it is becoming clear that, while he may be able to mold NFL talent into pros, he is not able to mold average athletes into solid college players, which is much more important.

Also, he is the lead recruiter in Western Pa., where WVU had one of its weakest presence in years.