Room To Grow

Josh Jenkins

West Virginia's offensive line was a question mark going into the season, and its improvement over the year was viewed as one of several critical factors in the Mountaineers' success or failure in 2009.

The line's results have been mixed to date. WVU's offense has put up a pair of 500+ yard games, but has also struggled at times to move the ball consistently. In WVU's latest game, USF's defensive line dominated play and shut down West Virginia's running game.

"They were good players, really good players," admitted Mountaineer offensive lineman Josh Jenkins. "[George] Selvie and the whole defensive line were athletic. Jason Pierre-Paul, he's probably one of the better players I have ever played against. They're going to be very successful at the next level."

Despite being just a sophomore, Jenkins is undoubtedly one of the leaders of the offensive line so he had high hopes for his fellow lineman coming into his second season with the Mountaineers. Although Jenkins admits that their play hasn't been perfect, he has been pleased with the effort put forth.

"You always have high expectations but I think we have progressed a lot from the first game until now," said Jenkins. "I think we have come very far. I really didn't know how far we would be but I knew that we would get better each game and I think that is what we have done so far."

Like most areas of the team, the line has some obvious room for improvement. Jenkins gives his unit a grade of ‘B' so far, but he has identified several wrinkles that he hopes to get ironed out as the season comes to a close.

"We can get better, "said Jenkins. "There's always room to get better. We're trying to get to where we aren't missing any calls – where we aren't missing any blitzes. We've been doing a pretty good job at that. We've been doing a pretty good job at picking up all the blitzes and communicating out there so it's been pretty good."

One wrinkle in the offensive line that has proven to work well has been the rotation of junior Eric Jobe and redshirted freshman Joe Madsen between the center and right guard positions on the line. Although it has taken some getting used to, Jenkins and the rest of the line have adjusted to the rotation and see how it is benefiting the team.

"It definitely affects how I play because they have different footwork and they are different type of players, completely different type of players," he explained. "Coach Johnson does a great job of adjusting. He will have one of them practice two days and the other one practice two days and then we find out who is going to play which position right before the game."

Even though the offensive line doesn't know week in and week out which player will be at center and which will be at right guard, Jenkins says that it doesn't have much effect on the flow of the line.

"It doesn't really affect [communication on the line]," said Jenkins. "The center usually makes a lot of the calls for the line but as we are maturing as an offensive line everyone is being able to make calls."

So as the offensive line and the rest of the team prepares for the "four game season" ahead, Jenkins is focused on making the most of the end of his second season with the Mountaineers. He understands the challenge at hand, as the Mountaineers have been put into a must-win frame of mind for the remainder of the season.

"We just have to stay together as a unit because we're all that we have," said Jenkins. "Everyone else is still going to doubt us every day so we just have to keep getting better and stick together. Grind it out and play to the whistle."

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