MORGANTOWN — It wasn’t all that way back that an damage to an offensive lineman would have WVU head coach Neal Brown holding his breath.
“There’s been instances in my profession after I’m like ‘uh oh’ and also you’ve actually bought to consider the way you’re going to name the sport,’ Brown admitted.
Nonetheless, when two beginning linemen went down in the course of the Mountaineers’ 41-28 win over UCF on Saturday, he didn’t blink.
Reserve linemen Nick Malone and Ja’Quay Hubbard have been each pressed into service in Orlando, changing starters Doug Nester and Brandon Yates and WVU’s offense didn’t miss a beat.
“You don’t blink after they go in,” Brown mentioned. “They’ve performed lots of soccer…Malone and Ja’Quay — who’re, on paper, our sixth and seventh (linemen) — they’ve performed lots of soccer.”
Each Malone and Hubbard have began video games this season and mix to have performed in practically 50 profession video games. Hubbard stepped in at proper guard when starter Tomas Rimac missed two video games and Malone made his first profession begin two weeks in the past in opposition to Oklahoma State.
On Saturday, Hubbard got here in for Yates at proper guard and Malone slotted in at proper deal with for Mester.
Even with your entire proper aspect of its offensive line changed, WVU’s offense put up a season-best 41 factors in opposition to FBS competitors. The Mountaineers ran for 286 yards, averaged 5.7 yards per carry and solely had two adverse performs in your entire contest.
“That simply exhibits that anybody on our O-line can step up and play,” left deal with Wyatt Milum mentioned. “That exhibits the depth that we now have.”
It additionally exhibits how far the offensive line has come as a unit in recent times. WVU used lots of completely different offensive line combos throughout Brown’s early tenure in 2019 and 2020, however mainstays like Nester, Milum and all-American heart Zach Frazer have given the unit a powerful basis to construct round.
“Between Doug, Zach and Wyatt, these guys, as a result of they’re nice gamers, as a result of they’ve good folks and since they’re our hardest staff, they actually affect that,” Brown mentioned. “Our O-line is our hardest working group.”
It’s not simply the starters who’ve flourished both. The success Hubbard and Malone had on Saturday, and the remainder of this season, exhibits the unit’s depth as properly.
“It’s actually simply the following man up,” Milum mentioned. “Malone stepped in and he did a extremely good job (Saturday). We’ve bought depth on the O-line.”
Brown has maintained all season that Frazier, Nester and Milum are all-conference caliber gamers, however the subsequent 4, Yates, Rimac, Hubbard and Malone, have proven that they don’t seem to be too far behind them.
“We’ve been a bunch that even when dangerous issues occur, we’ve at all times responded,” Brown mentioned. “We’ve been in a position to bounce again when dangerous issues occur. We performed two backup linemen for almost all of the sport…however the group is basically resilient.”