West Virginia's Marcell Lazard Earns Start At Right Tackle For Huge Test Against Missouri

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

That's one way to surmise the situation of West Virginia's Marcell Lazard. The junior battled Colton McKivitz for the right guard slot, edging out the redshirt freshman within the last week to claim the start for the season opener against Missouri. Now, he goes from embattled to not-yet-entrenched while facing among the top defensive fronts on the schedule.

"Competition beings the best out of people and brings your 'A' game," said Lazard, who will make his seventh career start in 16 games on  Saturday. "It makes you go out and give your 'A' game everyday, so it's good. I'm going to keep pushing away and keep doing the best I can do. When you're competing for a job, there is no bad blood. (McKivitz) is a good kid and we are friends. We hang out off the field."

It wasn't easy for Lazard (6-5, 306 lbs.) to keep the starting slot, even after playing a career-high 86 plays in the Cactus Bowl against Arizona State. McKivitz (6-7, 304 lbs.) was praised throughout camp for his length and athleticism, and his basketball background helped him with some of the tangibles of playing tackle. Lazard's experience and ability ultimately won out, however, and he was slotted into the starting spot.

"Play fast, play physical, keep them uptempo, and keep them off their game," Lazard said of how to handle the SEC East's best defensive line. "If we do that, we should be OK."

Lazard will be matched against Missouri's Jordan Herald, a first-year starter who began his career at Northwest Missouri State. Herald played in two games in 2014, then transferred to Mizzou, where he walked on last season. The 6-2, 265-pounder, like Lazard, won the job during fall camp, partially because the Tigers lost starting end Walter Brady after a violation of team rules. That still leaves second team All-SEC selection Charles Harris at the other end slot opposite Yodny Cajuste, and sizable tackles in A.J. Logan and Rickey Hatley - both of whom weigh 320-plus pounds, which is 10 pounds heavier than West Virginia's biggest starting offensive lineman in Kyle Bosch (6-5, 310).

"Their D-line's athleticism, their strength," Lazard said of Missouri's best attributes. "They are pretty good, probably the best D-line I have seen. They're smart and they rarely get out of position. They're athletic and stay in their gaps. They're fast and strong; they're good. (But) they are a different type of D-line than I have faced in the past because they are four down. Two inside guys, big. Two outside guys, big and fast.

"You gotta watch film, you gotta prepare, you have to go out and practice. As much as we want Friday and Saturday to get here, we have to be ready for Friday and Saturday."

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