Two players on the football field touch the ball on every offensive play — the quarterback and the center.
Nearly every fan in the stadium knows the name of the guy taking the snaps, but that number decreases significantly when it comes to the actual snapper. The man who begins every play and anchors the middle of the offensive line is often invisible — unless of course he snaps the ball over the quarterback’s head.
Coaches, though, know full well the importance of a good center, and that’s why the battle to replace Joe Madsen has been such an important one this summer at West Virginia University.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen and first-year offensive line coach Ron Crook have tried a number of bodies at that position, but it appears as though they’re close to settling on redshirt-freshman Tyler Orlosky.
“He has the upper hand right now,” said head coach Dana Holgorsen earlier this week. “We are playing about 10 bodies on the offensive line, and it would be 11 if we had Adam Pankey, but he is a ways away.”
Holgorsen said another redshirt-freshman, Tony Matteo, is also in the mix at center.
“Those are the two that are taking the majority of the reps, and we’re talking about two redshirt-freshman there,” he said. “Both of them have a lot of growing to do. Tyler is probably a little bit ahead, physically.”
A 6-foot-4, 296-pounder out of Cleveland, Ohio, Orlosky practiced mostly at guard last fall during his redshirt season, but he moved to center during the spring.
“I was told they wanted me to move over to center, and it was the best chance I was going to have to get on the field,” said the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll honoree. “So that was what I was going with.
“It’s been different. Anytime you are asked to play a different position, there is a transition period to go through, and I’m still going through that period. I’m learning the schemes, making the calls and getting snaps down.”
The two-time Cleveland Plain Dealer Offensive All-Star said he’s far from a finished product. One of the biggest adjustments, he said, is making sure every snap is perfect — something he didn’t have to worry about when he was lining up as a guard.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “It’s tough. You have to focus on it, and the muscle memory needs to kick in. You do it a couple of times, and you have to realize that you can’t think about it. You just need to let your body take over and do it for you.
“I think I have a couple hundred more snaps to go before I get the muscle memory to kick in.”
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WVU fans will have some new options when purchasing single game tickets for the upcoming football season, thanks to two new features introduced by the Mountaineer Ticket office.
By visiting www.wvugame.com, fans can use the new “Select Your Seats” feature and see an interactive map and seating chart to select their exact seat. The map includes pictures of the view from each section to aid the process.
After purchasing tickets, fans will also have the option to receive the tickets via e-mail on a mobile device. The bar-code can then be scanned at the gate, allowing the fan entrance into the stadium.
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The Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG added a new radio network Tuesday, gaining a presence in Charleston with the signing of WMXE-FM. That station will carry WVU football, men’s basketball, the coaches’ shows for both sports and a Mountaineer Minute daily report.
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WVU’s Dec. 5 basketball game against Missouri, part of the inaugural Big 12/SEC Challenge, will be played at 7 p.m. and will air live on ESPN2. The Big 12 announced the game time Tuesday.
Cam Huffman is sports editor of The Register-Herald.