A year ago, hints of some individualism clouded West Virginia's play over the last half of the season, leading to a five-game losing streak and a numbing bowl loss. To rectify that situation, teamwork was a point of emphasis during the spring and summer, according to Spain.
"After beating Texas, we might have celebrated too much," Spain said in pinpointing the reasons for WVU's downfall. "The coaches have taught us that we must be more respectful. All of the offseason was about the team. There were no individuals."
Spain is expected to be a leader on an offensive line that returns experience, but expects to be shuffled from that of a season ago. Pat Eger, a sometime starter, has been moved to center, and Curtis Feigt and Nick Kindler are battling at tackle, but the guard spots are open.
"We have some young guys, and there is a lot of competition," said Spain of his group. "They've all been at all of the summer workouts."
Spain indicated the competition theme is continuing across the offense, from quarterback to running back. Although he smartly declined to name his perceived leader at the former position "I'll leave that up to the coaches", he pointed out that running back might be even more deep.
"There is lots of competition there. I've talked with [transfer] running back Charles Sims, and i like the way he cam in and didn't try to act like he was 'all that'. He followed through and learned about everything."
As an anchor up front, Spain will be one of the players that head coach Dana Holgorsen leans on to form a productive unit. Holgorsen pointed out that while he does have a deep pool of running back talent, it won't be worth much without an effective offensive line to make it go. That's another place the teamwork angle comes in, and Spain is anxious to show that last year's collapse was an anomaly.
"We started off good, and we finished really bad," Spain said. "We can use that as a motivator, and show that the end of last year was just a fluke."