Team Within A Team

WVU's offensive line has received many preseason honors going into 2008. It was named the number four offensive line in the nation by Lindy's Sports Magazine, while Athlon Sports named the OLine number one in the nation in their preseason rankings. Senior offensive lineman Jake Figner, sometimes overlooked in that group, has at least received some notice, being named third-team all Big East.

"It's flattering how people recognize you preseason but at the same time it's relatively meaningless at this point," said Figner, who is not one to get caught up in pre-season hype. "Everyone is zero and zero and we're all starting with a clean slate. I think it's more of a reflection of your past accomplishments. I think across the front line that we've gotten some preseason hype but I think the guys realize its just hype until we put it out on the field."

The business-like senior has a wealth of experience to draw upon, so he's not just mouthing the words. He knows that the real tests, and measures of success come on game day, not in the glossy pages of magazines that go to press three months before the season starts.

The offensive line has also gotten praise from quarterback Pat White who said that he "couldn't ask for a better front five." That's a much more meaningful accolade for Figner and his cohorts up front.

Figner is one of the stalwarts who are playing under their third coach in the last three years. Figner credits new mentor Dave Johnson's laid back coaching style to making the transition as bump-free as possible.

"(Johnson) is very patient. He has a very professor-like approach where he is just a teacher of the game. It's been a real smooth transition. We take bits and pieces of what each coach has given us and Coach Johnson came in and has taken us to the next level," Figner said of his new coach.

Figner and the rest of the line realize that they must have good relationship full of communication to execute at their positions.

"Throughout the line you would so tightly together and you spend so much time together that the cohesion you develop really helps out on the field," Figner said of his relationship with the rest of the offensive line.

When the fab five on the OLine finish their careers for the Gold and Blue, they will not be leaving the Mountaineers high and dry. Five star recruit Josh Jenkins from Parkersburg has been working with the Figner and the other offensive lineman in hopes to develop at the position.

"(Jenkins) really wants to learn so he asks a lot of questions. Every time I see something that I can help him with I try to explain to him how he can help himself. He's definitely come to work and he has a bright future here at WVU," Figner said of the freshman.

Fans can expect big things from the Mountaineers experience offensive line, which Figner refers to as a "team within the team", this season. The team as a whole is experiencing a brotherhood which will likely translate into victories off the field.

Last season, Figner started in 12 of the Mountaineers' 13 games. He began the season as a right tackle but was moved to the guard position. He was a part of 60+ plays in 11 games. The Mountaineers finished the season ranked 15th nationally in total offense.


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