OL coach Bedenbaugh: Line still has a lot to learn
Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 23:04
With the West Virginia football team heading into one of its most anticipated seasons in a while, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the eye-popping numbers quarterbacks can put in its new offense.
But those numbers can't be put up if a certain group doesn't do its job.
That group is the offensive line, and with a couple of key components out with injuries, new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh came into spring practice looking to see some of his younger guys progress as much as possible.
And so far, he's been pretty impressed.
"The biggest thing about this group is that they really have improved every day, and that's what you're looking for," Bedenbaugh said. "We're making pretty good progress, and if we continue to improve every day and continue to get better, then we'll have a chance to be pretty good."
With its two tackles – senior Don Barclay and junior Jeff Braun – out after getting offseason shoulder surgeries, the Mountaineers have turned to a lot of younger players without experience to make plays in the spring.
Sometimes it hasn't been pretty, as seen by the six sacks the line gave up in the first scrimmage of spring practice last Saturday, but that's something the coaches can let go as of right now – especially when those younger, inexperienced players have to slow down the likes of Bruce Irvin on the edge.
"(Irvin) is as good of a pass rusher as I've seen, so when we get sacked, what can you tell them? You just tell them to keep getting better," said offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. "They're doing fine; (redshirt freshman Quinton) Spain's young, (sophomore Pat) Eger's young.
"Those guys will keep getting better, that's for sure."
And with a lot of younger guys having to step up with those injuries, not only has it been tough to find a stable rotation up front, it's taking some time to find good leaders – especially since the offense is still in the process of learning a new system.
With Barclay and Braun on the sidelines right now, the obvious choice to be that leader is senior guard Josh Jenkins.
The Parkersburg, W.Va., native who, other than Barclay, has played in more games than any member of this year's offensive line, would naturally be one of the people who the younger guys go to for advice. But, Bedenbaugh said, right now, it's tough for anyone to be a great leader.
"He's saying some things, and he's trying to help out (Spain), who hasn't played a bunch. Obviously, Josh has got a bunch of reps in games, but not in this system," Bedenbaugh said. "He's trying to help and be a leader, but then again, he's learning at the same time.
"The thing for him to worry about right now more than anything is perfecting his job."
For Bedenbaugh, who spent the previous four seasons as the offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator at Arizona, the key for right now isn't to find out who will be the starters. There will be plenty of time to figure that out once the Mountaineers start camp in the summer.
The big thing right now, with two of its most experienced players confined to the sidelines and a lot of players still adjusting to more reps, is picking up the mindset necessary to succeed in this offense.
"I don't care who it is, if we're playing the Green Bay Packers, I expect to win. I don't expect anybody to get beat, and that's the mindset that they have to have," Bedenbaugh said. "Is it tough? Yeah, it's tough.
"But, it's going to make them better."