Our spring practice preview schedule:
- Thursday, March 31: Quarterbacks
- Friday, April 1: Wide Receivers
- Monday, April 4: Running Backs
- Tuesday, April 5: Offensive Line
- Wednesday, April 6: Defensive Line
- Thursday, April 7: Linebackers
- Friday, April 8: Defensive Backs
- Tuesday, April 12: Special Teams
- Wednesday, April 13: Coaching
For the third straight year, our biggest question mark entering the season will be our offensive line. Normally, experience and practice make players better over the years. However, getting experience and practice at being awful does not help players improve for the better.
Now, whether the blame lies with fired offensive line coach Dave Johnson or with the actual players is up for some debate. It was likely a combination of both. One thing is for sure: the unit's performance this season, yet again, will be the
thin thick line between failure and success.
As Country Roads pointed out yesterday, our rushing production has been way down the last two years. This drop in production comes in spite of the fact that WVU had basically the same amount of carries and more emphasis on the passing game, which should've given us more room to run.
As with most offenses, Dana Holgorsen's offense needs the line to create some holes and at least slow down pass rushers for the offense to function at its optimum level. That task has been difficult so far this spring because returning starters - Don Barclay and Jeff Braun - are both out due to off-season shoulder surgery.
However, as we saw last season, nobody can block Bruce Irvin on the edge so don't give the back-ups too much grief.
The silver lining of the above injuries is that the back-ups - Pat Eger and Quentin Spain - are getting key reps in the spring under the tutelage of Bill Bedenbaugh. These reps are key for both Eger and Spain since both could see significant early playing time. In fact, I predict one of these two will be starters by the end of the season, maybe sooner.
Spain has a much higher upside than any other linemen on the team. His recent weight loss and dedication in the weight room could have him quickly rising the depth chart come fall. Heck, the Spain could stand there and slow down pass rushers better than Josh Jenkins. (I kid, I kid)
Despite all the grumbling on the blog last season, our offensive line was not as bad as many people thought. Our offensive line only gave up 13 sacks all season, which was one more than Dana Holgorsen's Oklahoma St. team. The ultimate downfall of the line, however, was that it allowed 6 tackles for loss per game.
Having said all that, we know the line needs to get better if we are going to win more games. Under our new coaches, we will improve on both of the above numbers and have a top 10 offense. I have faith this unit will improve leaps and bounds over last season and be the catalyst for our offensive production.
Offensive Line Depth Chart:
LT #1: Don Barclay
LT #2: Quentin Spain
LG #1: Josh Jenkins
LG #2: Chad Snodgrass
C #1: Joe Madsen
C #2: John Bassler
RG #1: Cole Bowers
RG#2: Tyler Rader
RT #1: Jeff Braun
RT #2: Pat Eger
I would not be surprised if this looks totally different at the end of fall practice, but right now experience wins out over the potential of the younger lads.