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Asti: WVU Offensive Line Could Lead Mountaineers to Prove Critics Wrong



Zach Frazier and Doug Nester

Neal Brown has made a point to tell everyone who asks how much being picked to finish last aggravates him. And while no coach is ever going to like hearing his team will be at the bottom of the standings, Brown may have a point due to the experience of the WVU offensive line.

The main reason the Mountaineers could actually contend in 2023 – the experience of the offensive line. WVU has 132 combined starts returning from its offensive line.

Most good teams usually have a solid offensive line. It’s also pretty common for that line to be an unsung hero and not receiver the credit it likely deserves. As he enters his fifth season as West Virginia’s head coach, Brown feels that’s the case with his group.

Unlike when Brown arrived in Morgantown in 2019, WVU will have have an offensive line that has been gelling together for years and has players who fit perfectly into their roles. The 2023 unit is led by Zach Frazier and Doug Nester, two players who could both already be on NFL roster but decided to return to one more season of college football.

WVU football head coach Neal Brown and offensive lineman Doug Nester

Head Coach Neal Brown fist bumps offensive lineman Doug Nester at Milan Puskar Stadium. (WVSN photo by Kelsie LeRose)

But the reason why West Virginia’s offensive line could lead the way to success isn’t just about its two stars. The rest of Ja’Quay Hubbard, Tomas Rimac, Wyatt Milum and even Sullivan Weidman and Mo Hamilton have been preparing for an increased role and appear ready to step up.

Offensive line coach Matt Moore spoke about his belief in Hubbard in particular throughout the spring. Moore mentioned the intelligence Ja’Quay Hubbard brings to the table. “He’s really smart. He’s an awesome kid. He would run through a wall. You won’t find anybody who works harder than he does,” said Moore. Hubbard even expressed his hunger to emerge as a star himself, citing being in the best shape of his life.

WVU OL Ja’Quay Hubbard: ‘When I Think of Penn State, I’ll Take the Salad’

When you factor in such a versatile group of players with tons of depth and experience, WVU should be in a better position to make life as easy as possible for whoever ends up starting at quarterback and the multiple running backs the offense will rely on. It’s also worth noting the mobility of both Garrett Greene and Nicco Marchiol to extend plays and the athleticism of CJ Donaldson and company should make life easier on the offensive line as well.

Asti: CJ Donaldson Taking a Jump is Key for West Virginia’s Offense in 2023

“So what we’ve really done, what Matt [Moore] and I have done is we’re really not necessary evaluating the collective like when all five of them are out there because we’re moving them around. We really felt we needed to come out of the Spring with some versatility, right?,” said Brown when discussing the offseason plan for the offensive line. “And when I talk about versatility, I’m talking about Doug, Brandon and Ja’Quay. Those guys have versatility. And figuring out how do we get our best five out there and let’s trial and error a little bit here this Spring and find out how they’ll all going to do,” he said.

“And all three of those guys have played all three positions, center, guard and tackle. We’re locked in at left tackle with Wyatt and Thomas at left guard. And so just mixing those pieces a little bit and then really trying to push and get Sullivan Weidman, get him out there with the ones. Make him go against Sean Martin in one-on-one pass pro. Mo Hamilton, really trying to push him who’s got athleticism and pushing him and putting him in some tight situations some,” explained Brown.

Moore gave his own assessment too.

WVU Football OL coach Matt Moore

WVSN photo/Kelsie LeRose

“Always trying to create more chemistry.. and a lot of guys are moving around.. trying to create guys that can play different spots because you never know. You always want to have your best five out there and always want multiple guys to be able to play center.”

Now, obviously, there are plenty of questions surrounding the 2023 Mountaineers that cause people to doubt the team as a whole, but having the comfort of an offensive line is something that can help to spark a coach to have confidence and believe his team can win.


In a related story, PFF placed several members of the WVU offensive line on their 2023 Preseason All-Big 12 Team.

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