Credit Where Credit Is Due

They toil in the shadows. They deflect almost every attempt to praise them. They focus on improving the few mistakes they make rather than dwelling on the number of excellent plays they turn in. And it's time they take their place along the other great units in Mountaineer football history.

Hopefully, you've guessed that we're talking about the offensive line on the Mountianeer. This self-effacing unit has quietly created a ground game juggernaut that stacked defenses have been unable to stop. The question is, just how good are they?

When you look at them individually, they aren't the most imposing group in the world. By today's standards, they are average in size and weight, at best. However, messers Nimmo, Berk, Dillow, Sandor and Brown, as a unit, are performing as well as just about any Mountaineer line in history, including the heralded 1988 squad.

Offensive line coach Rick Trickett has taken his considerable knowledge and experience, combined it with the work ethic of these five players, and created a monster. This beast of a group faces off against seven and sometimes eight opponents play after play, but still had made enough holes for WVU to rack up 2,446 rushing yards so far this year. That puts the Mountaineers only 889 yards shy of the season record at WVU. It's held by -- you guessed it -- that 1988 team. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, that record is going to fall this year.

Confronted with stats such as this, the players shrug it off.

"It's our job," says senior offensive tackle Lance Nimmo, one of the more thoughtful players on the team. "We are supposed to give them room to run."

That may be so. And of course, it's also true that WVU has a stable of talented rushers. But that was also true in 1988 - just substitute the names Harris, Brown, Johnson and Napoleon for Rasheed, Cobourne and Wilson, and you've got a pretty balanced field.

Some of the credit, then, has to go to the guys up front. And while you'll never get them to admit it, they've earned their placed among the school's great squads.

WVU's offensive line has been termed "workmanlike", "hard-working", and "productive" over the past couple of seasons. It's time to give them another label. "Among the best of all time at WVU", might be a pretty good place to start.


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