Will to Block

While the offensive line is generally tasked with blocking for a team's quarterback and running backs, WVU's fullbacks and tight ends are spending the summer working on their ability to help carry the load in that area.

"That (blocking) is the main focus," said Will Johnson. "(Last Tuesday) we had a 7-on-7 and I went with the O-linemen to work on footwork."

"We've always worked on that, but we want to put a bigger emphasis on it this year."

That may be due in part to the questions that surround the West Virginia offensive line this season.

With only one lineman who has started more than five games as a Mountaineer (Selvish Capers) on the roster, the offensive front certainly could be characterized as inexperienced.

Thus, Johnson and his fellow fullbacks and tight ends may have to step in and provide an extra body for opposing defenders to face before they can reach quarterback Jarrett Brown.

While blocking has always been part of the duties of the "H" (for "hybrid") backs, it simply may be a skill Johnson and others at his position will have to use a bit more often this season while the young linemen gain experience.

"I've always been comfortable (with blocking)," the junior said. "There's a lot of stuff I still need to work on, but I feel it's all coming together well."

Part of that package is gaining the necessary strength to block effectively.

Johnson's coaches told him that they would like to see him play at 235 pounds. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, the Dayton, Ohio, native said he was at 234 pounds as of last week and wanted to gain a few more before the end of summer.

"You always want to put on a little bit of extra weight, because during camp you lose a lot of water weight," Johnson explained.

"I'm meeting the expectations the coaches set for me as far as weight gaining, so (the summer) is going good."

That weight gain has come under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph, whose workouts are noticeably different to upperclassmen like Johnson than what they may have been used to in the past.

"I would have to say that as far as weight lifting, we're doing a lot less weight and focusing a lot more on technique and stuff," Johnson said. "We're doing more stuff individually for our skills, like catching more balls and running more routes and stuff."

"I know that at my position, we're doing a lot more work on the line. We're getting better with our footwork to be able to help with blocking."

That doesn't mean the "H" backs are giving up on their chance to contribute in the passing game. Told that Brown had said he would be content "passing 70 times a game," Johnson chuckled.

"That sounds good to me," he said.

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