MORGANTOWN - A talented crop of young offensive linemen may give the veterans in the trenches the break they need, not just during games either.
Senior center Joe Madsen is flanked by fellow seniors Josh Jenkins and Jeff Braun at guard. Having the seniors fill the middle of the line is something in which they take pride.
''We were all young at one point, but we are all maturing each year,'' said Jenkins, who missed last season with a knee injury. ''Our middle three, our seniors, we take pride in that. We want to go out there and be the best we can be.''
Joe Madsen, left, and Josh Jenkins return for another year to anchor the West Virginia offensive line.
Assistant coach Bill Bedenbaugh said depth was a problem in 2011, and it caused the players to wear down during practices. He does not see that problem this year.
''We weren't wearing down in games,'' he said. ''We didn't have enough quality guys to practice with and get quality plays off.''
The practice routine has been to allow the three seniors, who are flanked by sophomore Quinton Spain and junior Pat Eger at tackle, to go four plays with the first team. The next four plays feature Eger at guard and Curtis Feight at tackle. During the next series of plays, Braun moves to center.
''We're going to start (rotating) like that on the left side because Nick Kindler is coming along,'' Bedenbaugh said.
Because of the veteran presence, the offensive linemen can move through the drills and skills quicker, allowing them additional time to focus on technique rather than fundamentals.
''We are all just building on what we are doing, and we know the plays a little bit better than last year,'' Madsen said.
Bedenbaugh, along with head coach Dana Holgorsen, has been impressed with the play of freshmen Tyler Orlosky and Adam Pankney. Bedenbaugh said the ideal move would be to redshirt those two linemen, giving them an extra year to get bigger and stronger.
''It would be nice to see those guys get reps in games, too,'' Jenkins said. ''We have a lot of depth and a lot of young guys. It's nice to see the young guys step up.''
That depth on the front line should come in handy, Madsen said, when the Mountaineers embark on the Big 12 Conference portion of the schedule.
''We have more seniors on the line and more people that are just ready for the Big 12,'' he said. ''We know that we need to bring that intensity every play.''