It seems like the question posed to West Virginia head coach Neal Brown the most so far this season has been to evaluate the play of his offensive line.
The main focus of WVU’s offseason, the Mountaineer offensive line left a lot to be desired in 2019. So far, Brown said he has been pleased with the offensive line.
“We’re way better than we were a year ago. our ability to run the football is much improved from a year ago,” Brown said on the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday morning. “We’re not a finished product by any means. We’ve got do to a better job of protecting the passer, we’ve got to do a better job in short yard situations, we don’t have great depth, but I do think those guys are much improved.”
Through the first three games of this season, the Mountaineers have rushed for 531 yards. WVU’s best three-game stretch last season was just 461 yards in games three, four and five. That success this season has come without the offensive line being at full strength each week. The Mountaineers have had a different combination of five starters in all three games this season.
Most recently, starting left guard James Gmiter missed WVU’s last game against Baylor due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“We had a really good bye week upfront and we’ll continue to work on the things we need to work on,” Neal Brown said. “Hopefully, we’ll be back at full strength this week, that’s kind of to be determined as well.”
Part of the reason WVU has been able to have success despite not being at full strength has been the addition of true freshman Zach Frazier.
“I thought physically he’d be ready, I didn’t have a good understanding of, mentally, how he would do, just because I hadn’t coached him,” Brown explained. “But that’s where he’s been really impressive to me. Physically we knew he was strong, he’s got long arms, big hands but mentally his ability to play multiple positions and handle all the routine, the schedule all those types of things, he’s done a phenomenal job. As a true freshman, to play in all three games, to start two of them, I’ve been really impressed and I think his future is extremely bright.”