By Travis Stone
WVU will enter 2015 spring practice with the hope that the offensive line can build to be an area of consistency like last season. The Mountaineers lost both offensive guards Quinton Spain and Mark Glowinski to graduation, but appear to be in a good position to replace them.
WVU was able to start the same group on the offensive line for all but one game last season. Spain was forced to miss the Iowa State game, but sophomore lineman Tony Matteo stepped in and the Mountaineers did not seem to miss a beat. WVU rushed for a season high 285 yards against the Cyclones and did not commit an offensive penalty or allow a sack to first time starter Skyler Howard.
The Mountaineers have built depth along the offensive line through recruiting and this season will test that new found depth. New offensive line coach Ron Crook put his stamp on the line last year and will have his work cut out for him replacing Spain and Glowinski.
OL Adam Pankey was an anchor at the left tackle position for the Mountaineers last season, but will move to guard for 2015. Pankey started every game in 2014 after playing in 8 games the previous year as he returned from off season knee surgery. The Mountaineers instantly saw their running game improve with Pankey in the lineup, having their first 1,000 yard rusher since 2009.
OL Tony Matteo stepped in for Spain when he was forced to miss the Iowa State game last season and WVU saw instant results. Matteo, normally a center by trade, switched to guard and appears to have found his natural position. Matteo had not seen much playing time previously, but seems to be ready for a solid season.
OL Tyler Orlosky was a highly regarded prospect out of high school and the Mountaineers knew very quickly they had found a new anchor on the line. Orlosky quickly made an impact after a redshirt year. Orlosky started three games as a r-freshman and earned Academic All Big 12 honors as he led the Mountaineers to a rushing attack that averaged 148.7 yards a game.
The biggest battle to watch this spring may be for the other guard spot, vacated by the graduation of Mark Glowinski. Two prospects fighting it out for this position will be Grant Lingafelter and Russell Haughton-James. Although they saw limited playing time last season both have the experience to step in and provide quality help. Haughton-James appeared in 11 games as a sophomore and Lingafelter was a r-freshman in 2014.
OT Marquis Lucas will be counted on this season to be the anchor of the Mountaineer offensive line. Lucas first saw action as a sophomore, starting four games at offensive guard. In his first full season starting at tackle, Lucas was solid in both pass and rush protection as he showed the potential to be the next great lineman at WVU.
The Mountaineers will have plenty of depth on the offensive line this season and it could prove to be crucial during this transition period. A few key names that could see playing time are Matt Jones, Stone Underwood, Marcell Lazard, Rob Dowdy, Yodny Cajuste, and Sylvester Townes. A key piece that may not be available this season is Michigan transfer Kyle Bosch. Due to NCAA transfer rules Bosch may have to sit out this coming season. However, WVU has filed a waiver to make him eligible.