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WVU's offensive line weak this year

Sep. 02, 2009 @ 12:00 AM

MORGANTOWN -- Much of the work involving West Virginia's offensive line came in the coaches' meetings as they tried to achieve balance and fit on an inexperienced unit.

The depth chart for Saturday's season opener with Liberty has been shuffled since the start of fall camp and bears little resemblance to the unit that was on the field at the end of last season.

The Mountaineers' offensive line has only three players with starting experience. Six of the 10 on the depth chart are either sophomores or redshirt freshmen. Three are coming off injuries.

"Everyone's looking at the offensive line because they're young. But they'll be fine," coach Bill Stewart said. "I'll keep them."

The consolation is that the Mountaineers start the season with a Championship Subdivision opponent whose 3-4 defense lost two starting linemen and two linebackers from last year.

"As long as we stay tough and battle, we'll be all right," said starting left guard Josh Jenkins. "People are going to say what they're going to say. When we step on the field, people will see different."

Blocking wasn't an exact science under Pat White, who didn't throw often and took off in any direction in becoming the top rushing quarterback in major college history.

Getting the techniques and designed plays right are critical to keeping new starting QB Jarrett Brown healthy and making Noel Devine the most feared running back in the Big East.

"We're extremely young, but we're extremely talented," said backup left guard Chad Snodgrass. "We're going to surprise a lot of teams."

Senior right tackle Selvish Capers is the line's elder statesman with 19 starts. Junior Eric Jobe is next with five starts, all at center during the latter half of last year. Jobe is now the starting right guard.

Joe Madsen, a redshirt freshman, has moved up from backup center to get his first career start. Redshirt freshman Jeff Braun, once penciled in as the starting right guard, will help out Madsen.

Jenkins and Snodgrass are both sophomores. Jenkins played in five games before a knee injury ended his 2008 season. Snodgrass broke a bone in his foot during spring practice and has yet to play in a game. He sat out the 2008 season after having shoulder surgery.

Don Barclay, who played in all 13 games last season, one as a starter, is the left tackle and is coming off a broken leg in spring practice.

Backups Jon Walko and Matt Timmerman switched spots since the spring, with Walko now behind Barclay and Timmerman helping out Capers.

John Bassler is the second-string right guard behind Jobe.

Despite all the shuffling going on, it's still the same deck of cards.

"We're surrounded by the same people we were in spring ball," Jenkins said.

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