West Virginia Football: Mountaineers Offensive Line Will Be Tougher in 2012

Amit BatraCorrespondent IIIJuly 17, 2012

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 25: A member of the West Virginia Mountaineers holds up his helmet before the take the field against the University of Pittsburgh Panthers during the 2011 Backyard Brawl on November 25, 2011 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The West Virginia offensive line has struggled in recent times.  It was simply outmatched by the defenses of the Big East. 

However, this season could be a different story going into the Big 12 Conference.  Members of the O-line will include Pat Eger, Jeff Braun, Josh Jenkins, Joe Madsen and Quinton Spain.

This year, those guys could lead one of the more explosive offensive lines in the country.  It's an experienced bunch, and the depth is there. 

Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is developing these players to be very tough and physical.

For Mountaineers fans, that is music to their ears.  The offensive line has been inconsistent over the last few seasons, and Geno Smith faced with a lot of defensive pressure in WVU's losses.

Over the last five years, the Mountaineers front line has lost its toughness and presence, so to speak.  The blitz usually troubles them, and the overall technique hasn't been perfect.  That can all change this season with all the experience West Virginia has.

Even though these five guys seem to have their positions secured, there is never certainty.

Eger started 11 games in 2011 but was bumped by freshman Spain in the final game of the season at USF.  Eger was able to fight back and win his position at the Orange Bowl.  Spain played in all 13 games last season, but USF was his only start.

Eger and the other four members of the O-line have experience with starts.

All the guys have chemistry with one another.  Eger has gone up against Seattle Seahawk Bruce Irvin over the years, and that's the type of competition he and the squad could see this season.

The five lineman will be tough, hard-nosed, hard-working players for head coach Dana Holgorsen. 

Jenkins is a two-year starter at left tackle.  He's played in 29 career games and has started in 24.  In 2010, he was named to the All-Big East Second Team by Rivals.com. 

Madsen will be the center and the main connection to quarterback Smith.  He is an experienced center for the Mountaineers.  He has started in all 38 career games he's played in.  Madsen was also All-Big East First Team in 2011 on the ESPN.com list

Braun will be playing right guard this season.  In 2010, he started all 13 games at right tackle and was used as the backup center and guard.  After Jenkins was injured in 2011, Braun took his place at left guard.  He only allowed one sack all season. 

The experience is obviously there. It's just a matter of these guys getting more physical and tougher at their positions.  The offensive line should improve tremendously this season.