Berk Does Double Duty

Offensive lineman Jeff Berk has two different positions to call his own on the WVU depth chart.

The double duty isn't unique under WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett's depth scheme, which calls for a sixth man, a seventh man, and so on rather than the traditional starter/backup roles. Thus, the double duty for Berk, who both starts at left guard and is the first sub at tackle for the Mountaineers.

Should an injury befall either Tim Brown or Lance Nimmo, Berk would slide out to the tackle spot, and be replaced by another guard such as Rod Olds or Geoff Lewis.

"Last year I moved down from tackle when Ken Sandor got hurt," Berk told BlueGoldNews.com. "I know tackle pretty well, and I'm confident in what I can do. I feel good with my steps out there."

While being able to perform at both spots is a testament to Berk's versatility, it also puts a crimp into some of hs free time.

"I mainly run at guard in practice. I don't get a lot of reps out there (at tackle) in practice, but I'll work on my footwork for the tackle spot on my own time, and also review the plays."

Berk is aided in that task by the similarities between the positions, which don't require a lot of changes in terms of footwork. He does acknowledge that there is a bit more head-banging at the guard spot.

"It's pretty much the same at guard and tackle, excpet for the fact that you are up in a two point stance at tackle, but you're down in a three point stance at guard. It's more physical at guard. At tackle, you might wait a little more for the action to come to you."

Mountaineer fans who are worried about the ability to transition quickly between the two positions should rest easy, however. Berk has already done that during a game, and against one of the toughest opponents he would face all season.

"It happened to me at Syracuse last year," Berk recalled. "Tim Brown went down, and I had to move out to tackle and face Dwight Freeney on the first play. I've been in that situation, and you just have to get your mind set and play. You can't worry too much about doing everything perfectly -- you just have to go play."

Berk is no stranger to double duty off the field either, having recently gotten married. Carrying the double responsiblities of school and a family life probably make the guard/tackle combo seem like child's play.

In what little time he has left, Berk is also conscious of helping the youngsters along the offensive line progress. He provides a mixture of instruction and support, which hopefully will help yield a solid rotation of players behind him.

"I try to help the young guys by encouraging them, and also by telling them what they need to work on. I'll help them with the proper technique, or the proper steps. I'll also help them with their cofidence. There's a lot of stuff to learn, and you have to learn it quickly.

"It's tough to do, and sometimes they can get down on themselves. I got down myself some last year, so I try to help them not get down on themselves."

With a leader of Berk's stature, that's not likely to happen.


BlueGoldNews Top Stories