West Virginia Offensive Line Wants to Add More Weight
MORGANTOWN — No one wants to be the victim of bullying.
But, that’s how sophomore offensive lineman Josh Sills felt following the final three contests of West Virginia’s 7-6 campaign.
“Yea, it kinda sucked,” Sills explained during spring drills. “Texas really pushed us around in our last home game and Utah did the same thing to us in our bowl game.
“For an offensive line, that’s the one thing you don’t want to have happen. We have a lot of pride as a group and those games were a huge bruise to our egos so we have been working extra hard this spring to make sure that doesn’t happen next year.”
That change began before the first day of spring as Sills and the rest of the Mountaineers returnees on the offensive front hit the weight room.
“Yeah, there definitely was,” junior Colton McKivitz said. “Last year, we weren’t the most physical group up front. That was definitely a weak point on last year’s team. We took that into this offseason with (Assistant Athletic Director for Strength and Conditioning) Mike (Joseph) and (Assistant Director of Strength & Conditioning/Director of Applied Performance) Coach (Darl) Bauer and (strength) Coach (Chad) Snodgrass.
“They pushed us this offseason, and there was an emphasis that we have to be the more physical group up front. That’s where our games are going to be won. We have some of the best skill guys in the country, and our defense is getting there. David (Long Jr.) is going to lead them and Dravon (Askey-Henry) and those guys, but it’s going to come down to who is the most physical group up front.”
In order to become more physical WVU’s ‘big uglies’ had to get bigger.
McKivitz, a Union Local product, tips the scales at 306 pounds while Sarahsville native Sills came out of the spring weighing 326 pounds.
Rounding out the expected starting five will be senior Yodney Cajuste (318 pounds) at the left tackle, juco transfer Isaiah Hardy (335) at the right guard and either Matt Jones (325) or Jacob Buccigrossi (301) at center.
And, as if that were not enough, arriving in June will be the Brown brothers — Joe and Michael — who both tip the scales at 340 pounds.
So, ‘Where’s the beef?’
“The process has been similar to what we’ve always done in the past,” assistant (offensive line) coach Joe Wickline said. “We have a program where you put in portions of the offensive, whether it be run game, pass game, the way you audible something. It’s been pretty similar to what we’ve always done, but now that we have gotten bigger, we are doing all of that more physically.”
That size and physicality can also be seen in those players looking to earn more playing time in 2018.
St. Marys native Zach Davis, who will enter the season as a redshirt sophomore, comes in at 307 pounds while fellow redshirt sophomore Chase Behrndt tips the scale at 300. Redshirt junior Kelby Wickline, who replaced an injured Cajuste at left tackle in WVU’s bowl game, weighs in at 298 pounds while freshmen Daniel Buchanan (300), Tyler Thurmond (288) and Adam Stilley (281) round out the unit.
“Those (weights) will change before we report of camp in August,” Sills said. “I think we’ll all be bigger than we are now, but the key is to keep our mobility while gaining that additional weight.”
If that goal can be met fans will definitely be in for a treat when the Mountaineers take on SEC member Tennessee to open the season on Saturday, Sept. 3.