MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Outside of a soaring shotgun snap that appeared literally to come out of a shotgun, West Virginia center Tyler Orlosky performed well against Alabama.
In fact, he had the highest grade of the offensive linemen, according to position coach Ron Crook, and was 100-percent accurate on his line calls.
That’s a promising sign for the sophomore, who lost his starting job as a freshman after two games.
“They played their asses off,” said quarterback Clint Trickett. “Last year the pocket would just collapse or there would be free runners … but now the line has improved a lot. I barely got touched, and that’s phenomenal when you’re playing a team of Alabama’s caliber.”
As for the infamous snap from the Alabama 5 that wound up back at the Alabama 24? A flood of pressurized factors gave rise to Orlosky’s only significant mistake.
“It was third down, Clint is calling for the ball, the guards are yelling ‘Mug! Mug! Mug!’ because Alabama is showing blitz, and Tyler just flinched on the snap,” Crook said. “Other than that one play, he had a good game.”
Adam Pankey allowed a first-half sack, and All-Big 12 candidate Mark Glowinski surrendered another in the fourth quarter. Both were attributable to technique issues, said Crook, who was essentially satisfied with the way West Virginia picked up Alabama’s pass rushers.
“I felt like we blocked their blitzes pretty well,” he said, “We gave us a chance to stay in the game and to win it down the stretch.”
Concerns about Pankey and Marquis Lucas making their first starts at the tackles were alleviated from the outset, when Dana Holgorsen saw the line controlling the point of contact. Maintaining that surge became more difficult as Alabama rotated through a herd of defensive linemen.
“I thought we played well in the first half—we came out and played nasty,” Holgorsen said. “We had like seven knockdowns, and we were taking some of their guys and driving them into the ground. Second half, our guys got challenged a little bit. We did not have that production.”
The only backup lineman to see action, junior guard Stone Underwood briefly replaced Quinton Spain after a left arm injury. Against FCS foe Towson this Saturday, the second unit should play meaningful snaps.
Said Crook: “Hopefully we’ll get that opportunity.”