Into The Groove

The West Virginia offense has been a work in progress this season with the introduction of offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen's new schemes and the integration of new players in featured roles. The unit with the most adjustments, however, was probably the offensive line.

West Virginia came out this season with a wide-open passing attack against Villanova, but has moved back to a rushing dominated offense. Senior offensive lineman Ryan Stanchek believes that the experienced line has been able adapt to the changes with that switch, and is now ready to return to its dominant status.

"We're a very senior-laden group. Everyone is gelling together with the new terminology. We've had some young guys that have come in and have stepped it up a lot and they've been getting the terms down too. I think that's a big part of it is that the young guys feel comfortable. You do different things every week for different opponents. We're executing a little bit better, " Stanchek said.

Stanchek's words highlight an often-overlooked aspect of learning new schemes and tactics, and adjusting to new coaches. There's getting the base terminology and techniques down, but then adapting them each week to fit the specifics of the game plan against a particular foe and a different defensive scheme.

There's another factor in play as well. WVU has also been working on its dual quarterback play package (can a three-QB set with Bradley Starks be far behind?)

"I love blocking for Jarrett (Brown) and Pat (White). They're both great quarterbacks. Jarrett brings another element in there sometimes because he's like a middle linebacker running the ball. He seems to always pull forward. It's exciting blocking for him," Stanchek said.

There is one member of the Mountaineer offense who Stanchek said is difficult to block for – sophomore running back Noel Devine. Devine is known for his pinball style of running will often leave the offensive line wondering where he is going. "It's kind of frustrating when you're out of breath," Stanchek joked about the challenge of blocking for the darting Devine. "But really, he's an amazing (running) back. We have to block until the whistle with him. You never know where he's going to be out there. I guess in comparison, he's like Barry Sanders because you never know where he's going to be. I think he hides behind the offensive line very well. You have to block forever for him sometimes."

WVU racked up its second consecutive 300+ yard running game against Marshall, and the senior from Cincinnati recognizes the importance of the team's victory over the Herd. He kept the team's morale up after back-to-back losses, which was something many of Mountaineers had not experienced.

"It was huge for us. They came in and they played hard. You have to give Marshall credit. They played a heck of a football game. It was big for us, especially the offensive line. We ran the football well. It was a step but we still have a long way to go."

With the winning mood reestablished, Stanchek and his teammates are looking forward to starting Big East play this weekend against Rutgers.

"We know what's at stake. This is a new season starting this week. You try to step it up a step more. We try to play them all hard but we know what's at stake."

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