A Better Fit

The 2012 season wasn't fun for offensive lineman Marquis Lucas. But there is much promise for the third-year sophomore heading into 2013, thanks to a simple position switch.

The distance between the left guard and left tackle positions, on a given play, is only a matter of a few feet. But for Lucas, that gap made all the difference.

"Last year was a tough year for me, because I was playing behind two really good left tackles in Quinton Spain and Nick Kindler," Lucas recalled. "So I didn't really get many reps. But coming into this spring, going from playing just a couple reps to all the reps, it's a big jump."

And that big jump is the direct result of Lucas' move away from that tackle spot and into the left guard position. With WVU working to replace the veteran trio that manned the interior of the offensive line in 2012 -- left guard Josh Jenkins, center Joey Madsen and right guard Jeff Braun -- the opportunity for dramatically increased playing time was there for those on the roster who could seize it.

Lucas has done his best to do so. The Miami native said he was moved to his present position at the behest of coach Dana Holgorsen at the end of the 2012 season.

By early April, Lucas was already drawing positive reviews from his head coach, who said Lucas was "moving better than he ever has."

"In the offseason, when we first came back, I was at 325. Now I'm at 310, so that has a lot to do with that," Lucas said. "I'm not as heavy as I used to be, so of course I'm moving better. But it was about the hard work. Everything we did this [offseason], it was just different. It was way harder. They challenged us a lot more on the field and in the classroom.

"Spring is going well -- way better than last year. It was a process, you know. But I'm getting it down day by day. I'm not where I want to be, but slowly but surely I'm getting there."

From dropping weight to learning the steps and the stance and all the other intricacies of playing guard, the process has come along quickly -- surprising even Lucas himself.

"I didn't really look at myself as an offensive guard after playing tackle all three years in high school," he said. "But once I got there and got the steps down and the concepts of the plays better, everything just started jelling together.

"It felt natural. It felt a lot better. I feel like I'm more suited for the [guard] position."

West Virginia's coaches apparently agree.

Lucas is at the top of the team's recently-released depth chart at the left guard position, and though Holgorsen cautioned that the depth chart may not be worth the paper it's printed on at this early stage, it's clear Lucas has a confidence and comfort that he lacked a season ago.

"It's way harder playing outside when you're on that island by yourself," Lucas said of his experience at tackle. "When you're in between the tackle and the center, you know you've got two bodies right there. It's less you have to do. Left tackle, in my mind, I feel like that's the hardest thing you can play -- being in a left-handed stance, going backward when they're coming forward. It's a hard thing to do.

"Going from tackle to guard, at guard, you get to be in a three-point stance and I feel like you can be more explosive coming off the ball because you're so low. Tackle, I always felt like it was kind of hard to get that pop, because you're coming up from a two [point stance].

"It's just ... I'm glad it happened," Lucas added. "It was a great move for me."

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