Experienced offensive line ready to improve in 2011
Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 00:08
The 2011 West Virginia football team is full of new names and faces. From the head coach and most of the coaching staff, to seven new starters on defense, the Mountaineer football team will have a new look this season.
The offensive line, however, should be no different.
The group combines for 65 career starts. But, only two members will be playing the same position they started last season.
Left guard Josh Jenkins was injured in the Spring Game and will miss the entire 2011 season after undergoing another knee surgery.
This created a domino effect of changes across the line starting with the movement of last year's starting right tackle, Jeff Braun, to left guard to replace the injured Jenkins.
Braun, a junior, has been adjusting well to his new role at guard. He credits a lot of this to the luxury of having two experienced players to each lean on.
"With (Don) Barclay on my left and (Joe) Madsen on my right, we were in games together last year," Braun said. "We kind of know what we're thinking before the ball even snaps."
Barclay, who returns at left tackle, has appeared in 39 games in his career.
He is the most experienced offensive lineman, and has been around long enough to know what preseason camp is all about.
"Right now, we're just trying to get better every day," Barclay said. "We want to be the best, and that's what we're striving for."
Redshirt junior Joe Madsen returns at center. Madsen has started 25 games since 2009 and head coach Dana Holgorsen has been high on Madsen's abilities ever since the spring. Even though Madsen will be in a new offense this year, he feels his job may be a bit easier.
"You're able to be more physical," Madsen said. "Instead of thinking about where you're going, you're kind of just like, there's my guy and all I've got to do is get there and kill him."
To the right of Madsen will be Cross Lanes, W.Va., native Tyler Rader.
Rader has patiently waited four seasons and, after earning a scholarship earlier in the summer, looks to be the clear starter at right guard.
The only remaining position left on the offensive line is right tackle, coincidentally the only position yet to have a clear-cut starter.
Redshirt sophomore Pat Eger has been competing with redshirt freshman Quinton Spain for all of camp for that final spot.
Spain seemed to be the leader a few weeks ago, however, head coach Dana Holgorsen recently said this is no longer the case.
"Pat Eger is playing better. That competition is far from over," Holgorsen said. "He has moved ahead of Quinton Spain. We will continue to work on and evaluate that."
With solid progression from the offensive line, Holgorsen's offense may live up to its expectations this season.
Madsen and his fellow "big eaters" will get their opportunity to do so starting Sept. 4 against Marshall.