Another Switch

With the Mountaineer offensive line struggling against a stacked East Carolina defensive front, offensive line coach Rick Trickett made yet another change to his lineup in the second half of the East Carolina game.

A week ago, it was redshirt freshman John Bradshaw who moved into the guard slot vacated by Dan Mozes, who slid over to center. But after West Virginia recorded just 81 yards on the ground in the opening half, Trickett again pulled the trigger, this time putting another redshirt freshman, Ryan Stanchek, into the fray.

Stanchek, who had just participated in a handful of plays so far this year, wasn't expecting the call, so it was a surprise to suddenly find himself trotting onto the field with the rest of the veteran offensive line.

"Coach says already be ready, and I was fortunate to get the chance to play," said Stanchek, who punctuates every answer with a ‘yes sir'. I just played as hard as I could. I don't think it was planned, I think it was just a spur of the moment thing."

Like most players, Stanchek's first experience in the heat of battle was a blur.

"It was pretty crazy," the Ohio native admitted. "I was just happy to be able to get in there with the guys who know what they are doing. Dan Mozes and Travis Garrett both helped me out a lot. It was exciting.

"I tried to blank it out, but you hear ‘Let's Go Mountaineers', and the whole stadium is shaking. I was nervous, but I just tried to go 100% and do everything I could."

A player's first meaningful on-field collegiate experience is obviously something he wants to remember and savor, but Stanchek admits to being so pumped, nervous and awestruck that the first moments were nothing more than a blur.

"Honestly, I forget what happened," he laughed. "The guys on the sideline said I pancaked someone, so at least they saw something they liked."

The rest of his performance was likewise in doubt, although he did admit to thinking he played ‘all right'. Stanchek hoped that reviews of game tapes will reinforce that assessment, but borrowed a phrase from Trickett to describe what the video will show.

"The eye in the sky, it does not lie," Stanchek said with a wry grin.

As it turns out, the grade wasn't bad at all. Head coach Rich Rodriguez, after noting that Stanchek was inserted to give the line a jump start, said that the redshirt freshman acquitted himself well.

"Coach Trickett graded him pretty well," Rodriguez said on Sunday. "He and John Bradshaw are both playing for first time, and we made the to see if he could give us a spark. "He missed an assignment or two, but he played hard, and it seemed like he was into the game."

Most observers, as well as Rodriguez, anticipated a rather rugged week of tape review, as the Pirates stacked the line and stuffed West Virginia's seventh-ranked rushing attack. While the Mountaineers did not play up to their usual standard up front, Stanchek also gave credit to the visitors from East Carolina, noting that they played aggressively throughout.

"They came into our house and played tough," he credited. They played a great game."

Now that Stanchek has seen a good taste of the action (he played the entire second half against the Pirates, will that put a zip in his step, or a bit more verve in his action during practice?

"Not really," he said. "I practice the same way all the time – as hard as I can. I don't think it (getting playing time) will affect me. I just play as hard as I can and what happens, happens."

NOTES

  • Stanchek's parents and four family friends were in attendance.

    "I ran over to my mom after the game and gave her a hug. She was more excited than I was," he said. "It was neat to have them there for my first extended action."

  • The continued shuffling along the offensive line indicates that the WVU coaching staff is still far from satisfied with the progress of the offensive line. West Virginia has had seven different players start up front through the first four games, and likely would have had eight had tackle Chris Bassler not blown an ACL during the preseason.

  • Rodriguez noted that it will still be "a couple of days" before he decides who will start at the guard spot. Jeremy Hines, along with Bradshaw and Stanchek, are the immediate contenders.

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