WVU boasts experienced, physical offensive line
College Football Videos
West Virginia's quarterbacks were sacked 26 times last season. If that seems like a fairly high number, understand the Mountaineers' offensive line kept Geno Smith relatively clean for someone who attempted 526 passes.
“I have the utmost faith in those guys. I trust them to the fullest,” said Smith, who last year became the first quarterback in school history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season.
Smith's success in the passing game correlates directly with his protection, as No. 11 West Virginia hosts Marshall in Saturday's noon opener at Milan Puskar Stadium.
If Smith is under duress or on his back, he won't have time to complete passes to a talented receivers corps. Showcasing a productive passing attack will complement the Mountaineers' running game.
“They're better than they were a year ago; they understand what we're doing a lot more, and they take pride in making sure (Smith) is doing OK behind them,” coach Dana Holgorsen said about his offensive line. “They take pride in knowing that if it's third-and-short, we're going to give it to (running back) Shawne (Alston) and get the first down.”
Playing worry-free in the pocket makes Smith, a Heisman Trophy candidate, happy and keeps the passing game productive.
“I'm going to stand back there with a lot of confidence and make my reads knowing that they're protecting me,” Smith said.
From left to right, WVU's offensive line starters are tackle Quinton Spain, guard Josh Jenkins, center Joe Madsen, guard Jeff Braun and tackle Pat Eger. They have made a combined 101 starts.
“Those guys, from an experience standpoint, have played a lot of football,” Holgorsen said.
Said offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, “My guys are playing physical and their whole attitude is different. They are getting close to the point where we want them.”
When Smith speaks about gaining a trust factor with his offensive line, Madsen realizes his quarterback's comfort level has never been higher. It makes Madsen even more determined to protect him.
When WVU faced Marshall in last year's 34-13 victory in the opener, Madsen admitted to experiencing growing pains.
“I don't know what I was doing. I looked like a freshman,” said Madsen, a redshirt senior. “My footwork was off, my technique was terrible. I'm a lot better now.
“It makes Geno so much more trusting, knowing that we know what we're doing.”
Note: A limited number of single tickets are available for the Marshall-WVU game. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-WVU GAME or in person at the Mountaineer Ticket Office.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rangers clip Penguins, take 2-1 series lead
- Cubs’ phenom Bryant helps send Pirates to 5-2 defeat
- U.S. Steel puts 1,400 workers on notice to curb costs
- St. Vincent unveils logo with an `edge’
- American Eagle closing Marshall distribution facility by July
- Scoring struggles linger for Penguins 2nd line
- The gathering storm: An IRS defeat
- Feud escalates between Westmoreland commissioner, controller
- New Ken raid nets 2 suspects, $4,000 in drugs
- Paragon Foods’ growth —and planned move — in line with local produce demand
- Steelers’ Brown skipping voluntary offseason workouts