WVU’s Behrndt Up For Challenge At Center, Even As Voice Suffers
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia center Chase Behrndt is a self-described talker.
That’s evident after spending just a few minutes with the 6-foot-4, 305-pounder. No matter the question or the topic, he responds enthusiastically, engaging in conversation and turning interview sessions into easy conversational back-and-forths. The only drawback to that? Add in the demands of vocal communication that the center position holds, and it can be a strain on is voice, especially early in camp season. Apparently, getting back into shape also includes work on the vocal chords.
“I’ve always been a yeller, so it takes me a day or two to get back,” Behrndt said, explaining his gravelly tone. “It doesn’t bother me. It’s just from talking so much. We have so many things each day that involve me talking a lot.”
That’s good news, as Behrndt, in the middle of the offensive line, is a linchpin in communication up and down the offensive front. Losing his voice would be a major problem, as it would for any center, but he knows things will be back to normal as he gets back into the groove of everyday practices. He’s also excited about the improvements he has seen in that aspect of play with his linemates.
“We grew a ton communication-wise this summer,” the Wildwood, Missouri, native said, highlighting the area in which he saw the line grow the most. “We worked a ton on it and I think we came a long way. We all got together and worked really hard, and we all got used to my cadence.”
The communication isn’t just a one-way street, however. Any of the linemen can alert to a key that he sees in the defensive line opposite, and it’s there that Behrndt also believes the Mountaineers have made good progress. That’s an area of concern, what with the relative lack of game experience that Behrndt, Mike Brown and to some extent Kelby Wickline have, so making sure everyone communicates well and can quickly relay information up and down the line is important.
With that building block in place, Behrndt is enthusiastic about WVU getting back into pads and thumping away in preparation for the season.
“That’s all I’ve been waiting for,” he said of fully-padded, full contact practices. “The entire [summer] going up against each other, it’s like two steps and stop. It’s nice to be able to lay the thunder a little bit.”
With almost four weeks still remaining until the season opener, Behrndt isn’t concerned about tiring of hitting his teammates across the line of scrimmage. If there’s someone that truly loves the physical nature of the game, it’s him.
“It’s great to get out there and hit. It really comes back on the scrimmage days, these are the days we love no matter what. We know it’s coming toward the season, so I think every day is going to be fun.”
Without question, the enthusiasm is there. The voice, too will round back into shape. The only question remains is how the line will perform. Offensive coordinator and line coach Matt Moore issued an expectation, or a hope, for the play of the less-experienced linemen this year, noting that he needs one of them to be great and the other two good for the Mountaineers to have a successful season. To be fair, that’s a tall ask, especially at a position where experience and reps can make all the difference. Behrndt, though, believes that he can help make it happen.
“Absolutely,” he said in response to a question about the line’s ability to meet Moore’s challenge, “I think the way it will work for us is wth experience. It’s great working with each other, but once we get out there and get real reps, I think we are going to be right where we need to be, and each game we are going to improve more. I think we have a very good line, and I am very confident we are going to make strides and achieve what he wants.”