Braun, Mountaineer offensive line ready to make the jump in 2012
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 00:08
The aura is much different on the offensive line for the West Virginia football team this fall camp.
A year ago, an injury to guard Josh Jenkins in the spring forced the Mountaineers to make some movements along the line.
Also, the right tackle starting position wasn’t determined until after fall camp concluded.
This fall, however, Jenkins is back, and every starter on the line has game experience.
"It took a toll on us last season when we only had, like, seven guys to practice," said West Virginia offensive guard Jeff Braun. "It’s good to have the numbers now to take some of the hits off our body in practice."
Braun, a senior, is in his fifth season in Morgantown and feels this line has an advantage on all the others he has been a part of.
"It’s a lot more physical," Braun said. "The one thing I’ve noticed about this camp is offensively and defensively we’ve bonded a lot more than we ever have before.
"We try to instill that physicality in the younger guys, and we’re seeing that with them now."
Impressive performances by two freshmen in preseason camp led to some competition for the returning starters.
And Braun sees this as a good thing.
"It all boils down to pressure. Pressure makes diamonds," he said. "When you have someone behind you pushing you, you’re going to heat up a little bit under your feet. And you’re going to want to get better. It’s going to make you a better player."
For the Westminster, Md., native, though, his starting position was never in jeopardy.
But, he was still invested in improving in fall camp.
"I’m just trying to get better and really have fun with it," Braun said. "You never know when it’s going to be your last play or the last time you play football. This could be the last time, so I just want to enjoy it."
Last season was Braun’s first with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. But he admits it didn’t take time for the two to establish a relationship.
"I love Coach Bedenbaugh. He’s the type of guy that if you have a problem, you can go right in his office and talk to him about it," Braun said. "At the same time, he wants you to be as close to perfect as you can. He expects perfection.
"Coach Bedenbaugh was able to bring out a nastiness in me that I hadn’t seen before."
The O-line, as a unit, the guidance of Bedenbaugh has allowed it to be prepped for a big season in 2012.
"Now, it’s just everyone is working to refine the little thing," Braun said. "Everyone has game experience. We just have to worry about the little things to get better. And I think we’ve done that this fall."