MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The guy who couldn’t snap straight last spring will be West Virginia’s starting center this week, but Pat Eger wasn’t too surprised to receive word from offensive line coach Ron Crook on Tuesday.
No, the surprising part had come Saturday night, during the second half at Oklahoma, when between series Crook said “Pat, you’re up! Get ready to snap.”
The versatile Eger already had played both guard spots that night, after working most of his first three seasons at tackle. But playing center for the first time in a college game—while going head-up against former national top-50 recruit Jordan Phillips at nose tackle—took a moment to process.
“I was just happy all my snaps were good; that was the biggest thing I was worried about,” Eger said. “I played smart and played fast. So I got that first little nervousness out.”
“My natural position is wherever I need to play to help the team win.” — Pat Eger
Eger played two series at center without any major breakdowns and rotated in at the guard positions on nine other drives. His overall performance graded out among the highest on the line, leading WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen to remark: “Pat has been playing really well, as good as I’ve seen him play. He deserves to start.”
The previous starter for two games, redshirt freshman Tyler Orlosky, endured some difficult moments in his first Big 12 game and for the foreseeable future will spell Eger. “(Orlosky) physically got out-manned a little bit,” Holgorsen said. “He got lit up a bit. The guy he went against (Phillips) was a good player.”
Eger can attest to Phillips’ size and force, having wrestled with him at all three interior line spots: “The guy from Oklahoma was pretty big. He was like 6-6, 320-something, so we had fun all night.”
During Tuesday’s practice, Eger estimated he made about 100 snaps during the various drills and live periods. The odds on all of those being sound would have been astronomical back during the spring, when Eger first try at snapping resulted in what can only be described as a spray pattern.
“I was having trouble with all of them,” he recalled. “When the coaches wanted me to try center, it wasn’t like ‘Let us teach you how to snap.’ It was kind of learn as I go along.”
Beyond the mechanics of making accurate shotgun snaps, Eger also wrangled with the concept “that you’ve got to snap the ball while there’s someone two inches from your face, who’s firing off the ball and trying to kill you.”
Now snapping has become second nature to the point where Eger said “it’s a part of your natural rhythmic movement.” As natural as barking out blocking assignments based on the defensive front, an experience edge the fifth-year senior has over the still-green Orlosky.
“Pat knows all the calls, and he can direct the offense,” Crook said. “He can get everyone on the same page.”
Watch Pat Eger’s interview below: