Taking Center Stage

Taking Center Stage

West Virginia offensive line coach Ron Crook says while he's glad the Mountaineers don't play tomorrow, he does believe the team has an emerging young center.

Crook said redshirt freshman Tyler Orlosky has been "working really well there. He does a great job, he understands the offense. It's given us flexibility. I won't go as far as to say we have decided on a starting five, but (Orlosky) is the one who has been in there the most at this stage."

In coach speak, that's about as glowing an endorsement as one could expect. The idea shouldn't come as a total shock. Orlosky, after all, was penciled in as the starting center on the two-deep coming out of spring despite switching over from guard to the spot during spring. But for an offensive line player just entering his second season – let alone one with all the calls and responsibilities of a center – to be able to match-up mentally and physically is impressive.

"He's not a loud, talkative person," Crook said of Orlosky. "He is very quiet and very serious. With that seriousness comes an understanding that, hey, this is my job and this is what I have to do. He's done a pretty good job with it. I think the biggest concern with young guys is all the different stuff you see out of defenses. They are going to show you one thing and do something else. Just getting him to trust what he sees."

Orlosky's ability to claim the center spot, at least thus far, has also allowed the staff to exercise greater flexibility at surrounding positions. Pat Eger, for example, likely won't often play center this season barring an injury to Orlosky. That has freed him up to concentrate on a number of other reserve spots. Eger says he still snaps after practice, but of now he is most likely to play left guard as he and Marquis Lucas continue to battle for the position. That Eger is a seasoned senior with vast game and position experience and Lucas a sophomore gives an idea of the talent level recruited by head coach Dana Holgorsen and his staff. This line is massive, the kind unseen since the days of Don Nehlen, I-formation football. And perhaps not even then.

Orlosky, at 6-4 and 296 pounds, is the pup of the bunch. Lucas is 6-4, 312 pounds. Left tackle Quinton Spain is 6-5, 335 pounds, while right tackle Curtis Feigt and right guard Mark Glowinski are 6-7, 314 pounds and 6-5, 305 pounds, respectively. The sheer size and volume of the line, and the hire of Crook, has pushed the Mountaineers toward more power blocking. Crook teaches the style, instructing players to attack particular opposing players, in contrast to the formerly-used zone style where players blocked whatever opposition came into their area.

"We're going in the right direction," Crook said. "We have big, physical players, so (the power blocking) fits into their personality and kinda what they do well. It's new to them. There's stuff they are still learning. But they are excited and they are into it. They've run a version of it for a while. Coach Holgosen's offense has always had a part of it. The difference is we are doing it out of different looks and different formations."

Linemen have noted that Crook's style, while power-based, is one with much attention to detail.

"I hope it's something I have always done," Crook says of his attention to even the smallest of things. "My feeling is coaching is one of the purest forms of teaching. I think the more detail you give to them and the more they understand something, the more they can adjust to something on the field. I think we are all guilty of thinking those guys know and understand something, then they ask a question and you go back and realize they don't spend all day with it like we do. There are so many different alignments and formations that we are going to see from a defensive that getting everyone on the same page from a mental standpoint, that's a concern every day. We put so much time and effort into it that everyone's getting on the same page. You gotta trust the guy next to you."

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