Don Barclay has about a month to go before he's fully cleared for all activity by the WVU training staff, so he, more than most, might actually be looking forward to a summer with drills and line work. While many players have to slog through that time, Barclay will be starting fresh after six months of no contact, so he figures to jump into team-organized activities with enthusiasm. Of course, those get-togethers won't include any work in pads, and there will be more running, lifting and conditioning than actual line play, but any sort of football action will provide him with the feeling that he's truly back.
During the spring, Barclay was with his teammates for every on-and off-field activity, but the no-contact provision following his surgery after the Champs Sports Bowl kept him out of the action that all offensive linemen crave. He did, however, try to put the time to good use.
"I kind of got to see more what people are like," he said of one of the unexpected benefits of being sidelined. "I tried to help people out as much as I could just from the experience standpoint of having been here. I think a lot of people got better during the spring."
Learning more about his teammates could certainly prove beneficial to Barclay, and to the line as a whole. Cohesiveness on that unit is a key to any offense, and will be a critical factor for a unit that's expected, perhaps a bit unfairly, to dominate from the start of the 2011 season. In addition to simply learning the calls and alignments, Barclay has to work with his teammates to adjust protections and execute assignments against changing defensive fronts, and there is usually no substitute for the on-field work required to develop that rapport. "Missing reps" was the only item Barclay felt he was behind in coming out of the spring but he believes that the work he missed can be made up in fall camp.
"Being there for film every day, working in the weight room and running, doing extra conditioning, working with Mike [Joseph], it all pays off. I will get the reps back come camp so I don't think I am behind that much.
Barclay, who is expected to be an anchor on the offensive front, had company during his rehab period in the form of Nick Kindler, who also missed the spring with a shoulder injury. While those missed reps on the field didn't help, the time he spent with Kindler in the weight and training rooms might have helped develop a rapport that will pay dividends later on.
"We're close because we are both linemen, but since we work out at the same time every day, we're always together," he explained. "One of us is always there to spot for the other [in the weight room]. We are pushing each other, and we'll be telling each other to get in and work. Definitely, our relationship has grown."
Will those mental reps, and 29 fall practices, be enough? Barclay, Kindler and the other members of the offensive front have a tall task in front of them. Admittedly, they have to improve on last year's performance, and in order to pile up the points they will need to prevent sacks and help avoid the negative yardage plays that, along with turnovers, are the two major no-nos in the offensive scheme. Despite throwing 532 passes last year, Oklahoma State quarterbacks were sacked just ten times – a rate which offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen certainly would be pleased to see duplicated at West Virginia in 2011.