WVU Looks For Big Results From Massive Offensive Line
MORGANTOWN — It isn’t like you are going to miss Josh Sills, not at 6-feet, 6-inches and 320 pounds … but then again he is just a tree in the forest that is the West Virginia offensive line this year.
“You know when we walk in a building,” said right tackle Colton McKivitz, who is listed at 6-7 and 300 pounds but admits to tipping the scales at more than that. “This is definitely one of the biggest groups I’ve ever been a part of. We were pretty big my freshman year, but we’re all 6-4 or 6-5 and above and over 310, at least.”
And if you think Sills is big, if you think McKivitz is big — and you can often see them together, even in the off-season having grown up about 30 miles apart outside Columbus, Ohio — you have to wait until you get a look at the Brown brothers.
They came east out of Paramount, California, which is basically a part of L.A., via East Arizona Community College and, rest assured, each needed his own plane to get here, brother Michael being the “little” brother at 6-3 and 366 pounds and Joe being the bigger brother at 6-4, 369 pounds.
“I hosted them when they came on their visit, so I met them and their family. I saw how much they eat. They are definitely a different breed of big guys,” McKivitz said.
And we haven’t even mentioned the potential All-American, Yodny Cajuste, at 6-5 and 321 pounds at left tackle and either Jacob Buccigrossi, at 6-3 and 306, or Matt Jones, 6-3, 328, who are battling for the center’s job.
See, the word is out around the Puskar Center that this might really be a group as big in talent as it is physically, one with the kind of attitude and bonding that creates great offensive lines.
You hear the coaches whispering about them and sometimes the defense simply shouting their praise, as defensive end Ezekiel Rose was doing on Friday.
“They are very versatile. They are strong and they are quick,” Rose said. “I like going up against Josh Sills and Isaiah Hardy and Colton McKivitz. Nice matchups. Colton has the length and is good with his feet. Going against those guys helps me out in every area I can work on.”
As for those Brown brothers, who are very much in the mix as they adapt to their new surroundings, teammates and offense, Rose goes against Joe Brown a lot.
“He’s very, very strong. He helps me out a lot when he does double teams. He makes it feel like it will feel in a game. You get in one of those double teams and there ain’t no easy way out,” Rose said.
In truth, the O-line performed below par last season.
“The O-line is definitely improved,” McKivitz said. “We had a lack of physicality last year. We have improved on that and you can see it in the running lanes. There is great effort. We need to keep getting 1% better every day, like Spav says.”
“Spav” is offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.
As you might be guessing by now, offensive linemen are a breed unto themselves. They don’t play the game for the headlines or the Top 10 plays on ESPN.
The only time you ever really know about them at the stadium is when the official calls out “Holding, No. 78, offense.”
But that doesn’t really bother them.
“Being an offensive lineman, there isn’t the glory. You see all the media pictures and you’re asking is the offensive line in there this week and it’s always no,” McKivitz said. “But you know, without the offensive line there is no offense. Guys like Gary, David, Will, McKoy, Pettaway … they can all be the greatest player on the field but without us there isn’t that drive, they get no running lanes, Will gets no protection to throw that deep ball.
“There’s also that energy coming from the O-line. We have to be the energy to pick guys up when they are down. You know you aren’t going to get the credit, but you also know your work has to be done.”
They get their kicks by being tough.
“That’s a pretty good feeling, being the road graders for those guys who run the ball,” McKivitz said. “What drives us is helping our teammates get to the end zone. We feel like we score when they do. Our kind of touchdown is when we drive a guy back five yards and leave him in the dirt. We are running down the field celebrating with them, just like scored.”