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OC Graham Harrell: It’s a ‘Huge Luxury’ to Have an Experienced O-Line

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WVU OC Graham Harrell touched on the experience of his offensive line and the advantage that could potentially give them this season during his press conference following practice earlier today.

”I think it’s a huge luxury,” said Harrell. “I don’t think it really matters what level you’re at, if you want to build a football team you build it from the lines out, on both sides of the ball.”

WVU returns all five starters from last season on their offensive line in LT Wyatt Milum, LG James Gmiter, C Zach Frazier, RG Doug Nestor and RT Brandon Yates. The only change to the offensive line is the swapping of sides for the tackles Milum and Yates.

Frazier and Milum have both been getting preseason buzz as members on numerous watch lists and the entire o-line has been constantly referenced as the strength of the offense by the national outlets in their preseason articles covering WVU.

”To be really really good, you got to be good up front,” said Harrell. “Because if those guys are good they make everything else easy. You can run the ball great, you can make more seems. You can throw the ball more effectively because you’re probably going to be a little more protected.

”Those guys being good, it’s probably the most important part of the game… Having those guys make everything better.”

Harrell then spoke about how the offensive line’s experience with one another is convenient for him as an offensive coordinator. He said that they were able to see most things and communicate well with each other due to their familiarity with one another.

In fact, when Harrell came in he tried to keep the words the offensive line used the same, or at least similar, so that the strong communication could remain strong.

Last year, statistically the offensive line struggled with 38 sacks let up for a net minus yard total of 294 in addition to having the conference’s last ranked rushing attack with just 123.2 rushing yards per game.

Those statistics, head coach Neal Brown said in his press conference yesterday, don’t necessarily reflect the talent of the offensive line.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily fair to the offensive line,” said Brown. “There’s multiple reasons for hits on the quarterback and sacks.”

Brown referenced the quarterback, running back and tight end positions as three positions that also influence those numbers. The quarterback holding onto the ball and the running back or tight end missing an assignment as several instances last year where the team’s numbers climbed in that regard.

He did say that the team could improve on pass protection on third down and be able to run better against the top teams in the Big 12. The move of Milum to left tackle is something that Brown feels could help those issues.

“He’s going to be special,” said Brown. “It’s not if, it’s when.”

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