MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Today continues a position-by-position examination of where the West Virginia football team stands after spring practice.

The eight-day video series scours the two-deep as the Mountaineers glimpse ahead to the 2014 season, Dana Holgorsen’s fourth at the helm.

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THE LINEUP
Tuesday, April 15
 Defensive line: Can no-name group hold the front?
Wed., April 16
 Linebackers: Will they be nasty or negligible?
Thursday, April 17
 Secondary: Trying to reverse two dreadful years of pass defense
Friday, April 18
 Special teams: Aiming to be really special in 2014
Monday, April 21
 Offensive line: Are the Mountaineers vulnerable up front?
Tuesday, April 22
 Receivers: Can they get their swagger back?
Wed., April 23
 Running backs: Is this the best unit in the Big 12?
Thursday, April 24
 Quarterbacks: Can any of the current QBs win eight games?

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Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Adam Pankey (57) is the projected starter at left tackle for WVU, while converted guard Marquis Lucas is the leader at right tackle.

 

Ron Crook prefers to move tackles inside to guard, as he did with Quinton Spain midseason in 2013. But that doesn’t necessarily bode poorly for the inside-out transition of guard-turned-tackle Marquis Lucas.

“Usually you like to go the other way,” said Crook, West Virginia’s second-year offensive line coach. “You like to move from the outside in, and that’s what he did (with Lucas) a couple years ago. He came here as a tackle, so moving back outside wasn’t terribly difficult. He has the advantage of knowing the offense, because he’s been out there a couple years and started games for us.”

He started four, in fact, the first four of last season. But West Virginia’s 37-0 loss at Maryland necessitated changes, if not outright panic, so Spain moved from left tackle to replace Lucas at left guard, and fifth-year senior Nick Kindler filled Spain’s former slot.

Lucas is the projected starter at right tackle now, returning to the position he played in high school.

“It’s a little different when you’re out there on that island,” he said. “Not having that hand down, you lose power, so you’ve really got to watch for technique.”

Projected starters: Opposite Lucas (6-4, 312, redshirt junior) is talented left tackle Adam Pankey (6-6, 304, redshirt sophomore), who platooned with Kindler in seven games last year but has yet to make his first college start.

The guards are solidified with Spain (6-5, 342, redshirt senior) and Mark Glowinski (6-5, 306, redshirt senior), while center Tyler Orlosky (6-4, 299, redshirt sophomore) hopes to hang on to the starting job he lost after three games in 2013.

“I’m comfortable with my starters,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Those five guys have been doing well. The inexperience at tackle was one of the things that we were concerned with, but Pankey is a lot more confident and is healthy and looks really good, and (Lucas) is really adjusting to tackle.”

Backups: No unit has more depth concerns. The reserve tackles are a mixed bag of still-developing players—Marcell Lazard (6-6, 314, redshirt freshman) and juco transfer Sylvester Townes (6-5, 286, junior)—and a veteran Michael Callichio (6-9, 319, redshirt senior) who has played few offensive snaps at the Division I level.

At left guard, Russell Haughton-James (6-6, 293, redshirt junior) saw action in 12 games last season, most often as a blocking tight end. Right guard Stone Underwood (6-4, 293, redshirt junior) was expected to compete at center last season but needed a year to acclimate.

Underwood can play center, but Tony Matteo (6-5, 297, redshirt sophomore) is officially the No. 2 for now.

Watch the video at the top of the page for player highlights and to learn how Allan Taylor and Justin Hoff grade the offensive linemen after spring practice.

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Comments

  • 1olewvufan

    The one thing that scares me most is the edge rush. The OL had issues with this during the scrimmages. I thought the middle of the OL held up pretty good during the scrimmages. However, it was the rush that came between the guards and the TEs the offense had a problem picking up.

    WVU's OL hasn't looked good in the past few years, and it has to improve. This is one reason WVU needs an extremely mobile QB who can extend plays, and yes, going by what I saw in open practices, the QB will take a licking. Where is Jeff Hostetler when we need him? Jeff took a licking and kept on ticking.

    • Aaron

      I recently re-watched the Oklahoma game from 1982. That offensive line had trouble with the Sooner defensive line. In a straight up rush, WV linemen were beaten consistently and Jeff Hostletter was hit numerous times. Nehlen and company countered the rush by utilizing play action, running draws and moving the pocket. There are ways to take advantage of a weak line. The question will be in the offense can capitalize on aggressive defenses.

      The one thing that scares me is depth. No matter how good the first 5 are, if you don't have at least 3 more that can play multiple positions, it's only a matter of time until they wear down, particularly in today's pass happy, up-tempo game.

  • WVU FAN

    How many schools are going to line up with a nose guard over center on Tyler Orlosky?

    I know Alabama and Oklahoma will and I will look forward to see how he has grown in to the center position, (this kid must be the meanest kid on the field to play center under 300 pounds in the Big 12) Let's GOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Mountaineeeeeeeers!!!!

    I hope we play with a hard edge!! (we will need to be able to run the football on third &3)

    WVU Sports is about heart, you either have it or you don't.... (it is a simple game -- whip the guy in front of you!!!)

  • Brandon

    You WV Radio guys should title your next article how to beat WVU...Come on...Pointing out weaknesses on the offensive line..Why don't you just tell the entire Big 12 and Alabama exactly how to attack us why you are at or even post pictures and video of the practices this spring...IMG>WV Radio.

    • Aaron

      I'm not trying to speak ill of ill of Taylor or the other young man but if either are more kn

      • Aaron

        If either are pointing out information that isn't readily available in any decent scouting report than someone has dropped the ball, so to say.

  • TruthTeller

    Yep WVU does not stand a chance at all. They got destroyed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. They have never beaten Auburn or Florida. They were destroyed by Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl. Hey I guess it would be a better game if those 10 time National Champions Plundering Turd was playing the Crimson Tide. Now that would be one heck of a game. Haters got to HATE!!! You guys need to get a life and move out of your parents basements sooner or later.

    • McVic

      Never beat Florida? Go watch some tape of the 1982 Peach Bowl. WVU beat the gators solidly.

      • An actual athlete

        I believe his post was sarcastic to start with to prove a point.

    • notorious

      Pat White and Steve Slaton aren't walking thru that door. We have Trickett, Millard, and a shaky O-line.

      The truth is that this team is going to struggle mightily this year. Poor QB play, shaky O-line, no pass rush. Why can't you people see that? You are just setting yourselves up to be disappointed.

      • Aaron

        Interestingly enough, the trio of poor QB's threw for 3400 yards last year.

        • notorious

          ... And won 4 games. And lost to Kansas and Iowa St. And got shut out by Maryland.

          • Aaron

            Unlike you hatter, numbers rarely post inaccurate comments.

          • mad hatter

            aaron just likes stats. doesn't matter if we win, we just need good stats.

          • Aaron

            You don't win many games when you give up more points than you score.

  • Aaron

    If the offensive line is indeed switching from a man blocking scheme to a zone blocking scheme, it can make all the difference in the world. How much, only game time will tell but it should be noted that when WV's high powered offense ran all over opponents, they did so behind 5 recruited guards utilizing zone blocking schemes.

    • mad hatter

      at least you're consistant, you don't know one thing about football

      • Aaron

        I am interested though, what are your thoughts on the zone blocking scheme as compared to a man scheme.

        Wait, you do know the difference, right?

        Tell you what hatter, I know you refuse to admit your lack of knowledge so if you do not understand the difference, make a smart a** comment thereby signifying your ignorance on the subject and I will explain how each scheme works and why I believe a zone if more effective, particularly with an inexperienced line.

        Ok.

        • mad hatter

          i know you resist admitting your lack of knowledge, but all your posts certainly id it...LOL,,, btw, you're not impressing anyone

          • Aaron S

            Good enough Hatter, as you do not understand I'll attempt to dummy it down to your level and explain.

            In essence, man blocking scheme, linemen are responsible for a specific defender as the play is designed for a specific hole. The gaps between the linemen are numbered, even on the right side of the line 2,4,6,8 and odd on the left, 1,3,5,7. The backs are also numbered-QB's 1, TB-2, FB-3 and slot or wing back 4 thus a 26 would mean the tailback is running through the 6 hole and linemen block accordingly. Stewart referred to this style as drive blocking. It's an old school term used years ago.

            The problem with this scheme in today's game is that most linemen have difficulty getting down field and placing a hat (that's football talk for helmet) on a defender, particularly when they're as athletic as linebackers are in the Big 12.

            In a zone blocking scheme, linemen are responsible for an area with the linemen moving laterally along the line and it is up to the back to utilize vision and pick a seam. Pat White and Steve Slaton did this perfectly. The beauty in this scheme is that linemen are initially moving laterally and then using the defenders movement to block him and running backs cut off the butt of the linemen. The one thing I don't particularly care for is that in this style, most backside linemen are taught to cut block pursuing defenders. I'm not a fan of cut blocking but I understand why it works. Defensive linemen know the cut block is coming so they do not pursue as aggressively.

            Does that answer your question or do I need to dumb it down more for you?

      • Aaron

        There you go parroting my comments again hatter. Thank you.

        • mad hatter

          mrs. huggins, you are lost in the world of intelligent people, don't you think it's time to try and get aboard

  • El Supremo

    Over the Easter weekend, I watched the Alabama spring game. Their first and second team defenses are exceptional--FAST, smart and tough to run against. Their corners are fast and cover very well.

    Any competent college football fan knows of their running back stable--fast and strong.

    Their only weakness appears to be lack of QB experience.

    Honestly, I don't see the WVU offense scoring against the first team Alabama defense. From what I saw, West Virginia will be unable to sustain any type of drive over 20-25 yards. The Mountaineer punter will have numerous opportunities.

    An excellent game for 'Bama to give their QBs some game experience. The only question in my mind: If the inexperienced Alabama QB can manage more than four TDs.

    • yep

      Alabama has no chance in that game, we will beat them senseless.

  • Aaron

    Allen, am I correct in that there was mention that WVU was going to change their blocking philosophy from a man scheme to a zone scheme or was that change made last year?

    • mad hatter

      clueless

  • Master of One

    Yes of course they are vulnerable...and you see just how much against Alabama...

    • hailey

      Master of one... you need to master the basic english language " and you see how much against alabama"

      Put the computer down and pick up an englsh book

      • Matt

        Really this is a sports blog so grammar shouldn't be the issue here. If you don't like what master of one said counter it with some facts or believable opinion. It's pretty petty to try to discredit someones ideas or opinions based on grammar. I guess he or she does not use proper grammar so they don't know football? My English Lit teacher could write circles around most people, but I wouldn't let he fill out my pics sheet!

      • Aaron

        OH THE IRONY! Hailey, English is a proper noun and should be capitalized. Furthermore, you misspelled the word English and forgot capitalization in your closing sentence. Finally, you've forgotten to use periods to complete your sentences. Yet you have the audacity to chastise someone else's grammar? You should take your own advice.

        • Aaron S

          I see you're at it again hatter. I think everyone knows that when you're getting your a** handed to you in conversation, you will resort to any level to appear less the d***a** that you truly are.

          Why is that? I know it doesn't seem possible but It makes you look even more pathetic than you already do.

          • Aaron

            So you have no thoughts on man vs zone blocking hatter. I'm not surprised.

          • mad hatter

            you should be well aware when you're getting you a... handed to you, it happens everyday here on this site, and it's almost beyond comical, but yet i have to laugh, and i see more and more how the school system has let you down.

        • mad hatter

          mrs. huggins, please go to another site. You idiot comments are making me laugh so hard, that.........

  • ole sasquatch

    Well, I for one am not willing to give Ron Crook a clean slate to start out with. I know about Stanford and his high praise out there, but he was just awful here last year. No improvement in that offensive line as the year went on - they got worse instead of better.
    All of you who want to take up for Crook just need to reflect back to last year with all the 3rd. and 1 yard to go. We could never get the first down on a running play. Then our tired defense has to come back on the field. No, I am not going to forget that. The offensive line was the primary reason throughout, that are season was so terrible last year. Crook is first on my watch list to go. He has to show me something this year. Don't let Crook off the hook is my motto for the season.

    • Mitch

      @ ole sasquatch,

      If you couldn't see the improvement in run-blocking by midseason last year then you don't know a whole lot about football, I and have to question whether you have ever been a coach like you claim.
      Vince Lombardi couldn't have fixed all the problems on that line in one season. Crook has proven himself at more than one school, his lines at Harvard excelled at run and pass-blocking.
      Stick to commenting on things you know about, because it's clear you don't know much about this subject.

      • ole sasquatch

        Sorry, I have to admit I saw no improvement in run-blocking or pass blocking by midseason last yr. In fact it progressively got worse. He may have proved himself at Harvard but we all know our season went down hill after midseason. By the way we can all only hope, that we could someday know as much about football as you do. Until that time I can only comment on what I see.

        • hailey

          The oline was garbage last year, Crook needs to fix it and fix it now if this teams expects to have a good season.

  • Rich

    I guess the good news is that other than the two projected starters at guard everyone else is young and should have time to develop in the program. Soph & Jr. class has a potential starter at each position. The development of Lazard is key to providing depth along with the true freshmen coming in

  • Rick55

    I think we can hold our own with the starting five guys and agree that lack of depth is almost certain to rear it's ugly head at some point.

  • FNP

    Depth is an issue at this position and we all know every team loses at least 1 O-linemen a season. The inexperience doesn't bother me much because technique plays a big factor on the line. I think Crook will have these guys in top notch shape to start the season.

  • notorious

    I feel sorry for whoever ends up behind center this year.

    • Tyrone

      I feel sorry for you notorious.

      • hailey

        I for one would love to see Mr Notorious line up under center, that would be worth watching.

        • notorious

          Play QB behind this O- line? Against the schedule we play? Sorry. I enjoy being alive.

          I feel bad for Trickett. There is no way he escapes this season unscathed.