The injury of Yodny Cajuste left the Mountaineers with some big questions along the offensive line entering their second week of the season. Different players could potentially shuffle around and become re-acquainted with playing both guard and tackle to alleviate the loss of Cajuste, but one guy who's definitely staying put is starting center Tyler Orlosky. Orlosky weighed in on the injury and his early impressions of Colton McKivitz, who will get the nod to replace Cajuste and protect Skyler Howard's blind side.
"(Cajuste's injury) was something we had to deal with and I think we did a good job," Orlosky said. "I thought Colton did a good job of filling in for Yodny and we get (Adam) Pankey back this week so that helps us out a lot especially since we lost Yodny. I think we have a lot to work with."
Orlosky then talked about being there to support McKivtiz, but at the same time not putting too much pressure on the young linemen as he played in his first collegiate game.
"When you have a young guy like that you just have to support him when he comes in," Orlosky said. "You just have to support him and give him whatever he needs to be successful in the game. I let him be by himself, I didn't want to put any more pressure on him than he already had so I let him be by himself but if he ever needs me I'm there. For a redshirt freshman going against an all-American I thought he did pretty well."
If you go back and watch the film of Saturday's game, McKivitz made a key block on Charles Harris on Rushel Shell's 23 yard touchdown run. Plays like that are a big reason why the redshirt freshman has drawn praise from his fellow linemen and coaches. Despite Cajuste's injury, Orlosky still believes this team will have a run-first identity that starts up front.
"Last year we were more of a run team than we were a passing team," Orlosky said. "That's what we want to be known as. We want to establish the run and when you establish the run it sets up the pass. I think for sure we're a run first team."
One of the players who could potentially be asked to move outside and add depth at the tackle positions is Grant Lingafelter. Lingafelter, who is a redshirt junior, has played every position along the line besides center and his versatility should prove to be valuable as the Mountaineers try to find experienced linemen to spell Colton McKivitz and Marcell Lazard. Lingafelter discussed his ability to move around on the line.
"(Whether or not I'll move positions) is for coach Crook and coach Wickline to figure out," Lingafelter said. "Since I have been here I have played everything but center. I'm pretty flexible, I can play left, right, inside, outside, whatever. Wherever they need me at I'll be able to play and hold my own."
Lingafelter also discussed whether or not moving from guard to tackle poses any challenges.
"It's not necessarily (a tough transition)," Lingafelter said. "My footwork is a little bit different, but our schemes are pretty easy to pick up. I have played left and right (line positions) and inside and outside my entire life. I'm versatile in that way so in my head I don't even think about it. It's just second nature."
Another Mountaineer who could also potentially move outside and play some tackle is Adam Pankey, who was recently reinstated to the Mountaineers roster after serving a one-game suspension. Both Pankey and Lingafelter should see significant action in Saturday's game against Youngstown State, and it will be important for both to be ready to sub in for Lazard and McKivitz, who for the second week in a row will have their hands full with a talented defensive end. Derek Rivers is a first-team FCS all-American who has attracted several NFL scouts to Youngstown and will likely be picked at some point in the 2017 draft. Lingafelter discussed the challenge of playing high caliber players such as Rivers and Missouri defensive end Charles Harris outside of the conference slate.
"Were so used to playing (talented defensive ends) in the Big 12 so it's nice to keep playing them out of conference as well," Lingafelter said. "Last week was good for Colton. It helps him that he's got some good practice out there so it should be another good rush end for him and Marcell (Lazard) to battle with."null