Lingafelter’s Return Provides Boost For WVU Front Line

Lingafelter’s Return Provides Boost For WVU Front Line

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – There was very little good to come out of West Virginia’s opening game loss to Virginia Tech in Landover, Maryland. However, as it turned out, one of the best things came out of what seemed to be one of the worst moments.

Grant Lingafelter had played a lot of football in his four previous seasons. Now he was a redshirt senior and ready to be mainstay at guard on the offensive line, but before he could get through that first game, Lingafelter found himself on the ground, wondering if his season had ended just as it was getting started.

“Everything goes through your head,” Lingafelter said as he took time off from preparing for Saturday’s noon Homecoming meeting with 4-1 Texas Tech. “First game, big game, had a lot of friends and family there. It was frustrating. I’m just glad it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.”

Such a journey into the unknown has you worrying about serious injuries and surgery, so much so when Lingafelter was told it would probably only take him a month or so to come back, he was relieved.

“I was very happy to hear it would only be four games,” Lingafelter said. “The first thing that went though my head was just don’t be out for the year. It’s definitely scary. I’ve been here five years, played a lot of ball and was lucky enough to avoid injury.

“But injuries are part of the game. I followed (Athlete trainer Dave Kerns’) plan, lived in the treatment room until I got back.”

It’s hard to be a football player unable to play football while suffering through long days and tough rehab. Your life changes.

“It was frustrating,” the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Ohioan said.. “Not traveling with the team for the first time in a couple of years was weird. It was different watching the game from the stands, not from the sideline. I didn’t want to stand on the sideline and chance getting rolled up on.”

And what does an offensive lineman watch when he’s sitting in the stands?

“Obviously, I’m staring at the offensive line,” Lingafelter said. “That’s what I’m interested in, watching the communication point, watching the backers getting kicked out, protection, staying on your feet.

“That’s where my eyes are, not watching where the ball goes. I wasn’t watching (Justin) Crawford run for touchdowns.”

While he was out, redshirt freshman Josh Sills was pressed into duty.

“Josh is one of my best friends here. I just had to be there for him. Josh and I both can play ball,” Lingafelter said. “It’s fun to have him here. I was supportive of him. He has to keep playing ball, step up so we can win a lot of games.”

This week’s Texas Tech game now has become crucial and developed into far tougher an assignment than was expected when the season began.

So how can the Mountaineers win against the nation’s leading offense?

“We have to finish drives,” Lingafelter said.

And what must they do to do that?

“Stay physical, stay aggressive. Follow coach’s game plan,” he said. “The coaches put us in great spots to win games so we have to execute all the way across the board and do a better job so we can get that ball across the goal line.

“We have to score more points, got to finish off drives. This is the top offense in the country. This is a key point in the season for us going forward.”