MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Last season’s 37-0 loss to Maryland was a rock-bottom experience for the West Virginia offense, and for the center who triggered it.
Tyler Orlosky, a redshirt freshman making his third start on that soggy Saturday in Baltimore, subsequently lost his spot to senior Pat Eger. For the remaining eight games of 2013, Orlosky was relegated to platooning as a backup.
“It was hard, because anytime you lose your starting spot you get upset about it,” Orlosky said Tuesday. “But it’s something you have to accept and you have to work toward getting it back.”
Through the disappointment, the Cleveland native felt he made some developmental strides.
“I became more consistent, because early in the year some plays were good and some plays were very bad,” he said. “Toward the end of the year I thought I started playing better.”
With Eger graduated, Orlosky is once again being entrusted with the starting assignment at center. This time he plans on holding onto it.
“You’ve got to go to work everyday,” he said. “You can’t think, ‘Oh, I’m the starter so I’m going to take a day off.’ You can’t do that.”
NEXT UP: REALITY CHECK
After the enthusiasm of the first full-contact practice comes what junior nose guard Kyle Rose calls “the reality of camp,” whereby coaches use film to offer some rather blistering critiques.
“Some guys are kind of discouraged when coaches get on them, but I tell them it’s all part of the process,” Rose said. “We’ve got to get better and it’s their job to coach you up.”
While Monday kicked off with an energetic round of Oklahoma drills and the preseason’s first live scrimmage session, Rose was eager to see how young players would respond at Tuesday’s practice.
“Day 1, everybody’s excited about coming in and hitting,” he said, “but Day 2 really sets the stride of how camp’s going to be.”
A year after cornerback Nana Kyeremeh had a possible starting job ripped away by a season-killing shoulder injury, the redshirt sophomore is running with the second unit.
“I knew I had the injury before (2013) camp, but I just thought I could get through the season and have surgery after,” he said. Upon realizing he couldn’t postpone surgery, Kyeremeh began coming to grips with an extended rehab.
“It sucked at the time but it was good to get healthier,” he said. “That year helped me because I got stronger physically and mentally.”
Now working behind sophomore Daryl Worley at right cornerback, Kyeremeh said he’s almost back to his pre-surgery self.
“It’s just trusting my body with hitting and all that stuff. With more time I think I ‘ll be able to work my way back to the starting lineup.”
GARRISON TALKS SLOT
Dustin Garrison hasn’t lined up at receiver since high school, but with all the West Virginia running backs taking practice reps in the slot, the junior said he’s embracing it as “another opportunity to get on the field.”
An opportunity that can feel unnerving for a guy who spent most of his football life playing tailback.
“I’m somewhat out of my comfort zone,” he said. “I’m used to being behind 300-pound guys leading the way and me reading blocks. So me being out there at receiver kind of puts me out on an island by myself.”
Garrison noted one perk of the slot position: He much prefers blocking safeties and corners rather than taking on big blitzing linebackers and bull-rushing defensive ends.