West Virginia University sophomore left tackle Quinton Spain admits he was a little out of sorts when Josh Jenkins went down with a knee injury in last year’s spring game. Spain said Jenkins’ injury caused a ripple effect that impacted every position on the offensive line last season.
Spain had spent his whole life playing left tackle until Jenkins’ injury forced him to move to right tackle last fall where he was out of his comfort zone. Left tackle is a position Spain prefers because he’s left-handed.
“Last year I took one for the team, so I had to play wherever they wanted me to play at,” he said Tuesday evening.
Last season, Spain was in on 329 plays, mostly in a backup role, but he did earn his first career start against South Florida while also logging 15 plays in last year’s Orange Bowl victory over Clemson.
This year, the 6-foot-5-inch, 338-pound mountain of a man is looking to nail down a starting spot at left tackle working next to Jenkins, who Spain says he likes teaming with because Jenkins has so much experience. The Parkersburg resident is a fifth-year senior who had 22 career starts under his belt before going down last spring.
“The first group everybody is on the same page because it’s the same group we had last spring, and now we’ve got the same people again so we’re working better,” Spain said.
Spain got an education last year both in practice and in the games. He said trying to block Bruce Irvin every day could be an adventure, as was recognizing his keys in Jeff Casteel’s unorthodox 3-3-5 stack defense. In high school, Spain said he spent most of the time mauling the players across from him because he was so much bigger than they were. Now that's not necessarily the case.
“In high school I was like the biggest guy on the field but in college it’s serious; you’ve got to get your back to the second level – don’t get your back hit in the backfield,” he said.
As for going against Irvin, Spain said he likely won’t see anyone that good this fall.
“I don’t think I will ever go against a better pass rusher than him,” Spain admitted.
Spain says he still needs to get better at reading his keys and understanding where the defensive players are going to be on particular plays. And that’s an on-going process.
“It’s been OK,” he said of recognizing different fronts. “I’ve been taking more time in the film room watching film so I can recognize what they’re going to do on us. Every play we’ve got keys, so once they call a play we read our keys and that will take you to the right spot.”
Coach Dana Holgorsen stated earlier this spring that the first offensive line has performed well and has the makings of becoming an exceptional unit. The key now will be developing additional depth the group really hasn’t enjoyed in the last three or four years.
“Those first-level guys are doing good things,” said Holgorsen. “They block now so it’s a lot easier to run the ball and it’s a lot easier to throw the ball. When the second guys get in there, it resembles a little bit what it was like a year ago. When you’ve got three guys coming through to the quarterback, it looks like crap. When you hand the ball off to the back, and you’ve got people behind the block, it doesn’t look very good.
“We go as the offensive line goes.”
Spain says the team’s tempo seems much faster to him this spring because everyone is more familiar with the offense, plus, he’s happy with where he’s at after seven spring practices so far.
“Like Coach (Bedenbaugh) says, he’s going to play the best five so he is going to fit you in wherever,” Spain said. “I’ll do whatever to help the team.”
For Spain, that means keeping everyone healthy so he can remain at left tackle – his natural position.
Briefly: West Virginia completed its seventh practice of the spring on Tuesday and will have its eighth workout on Thursday afternoon … Coach Dana Holgorsen addressed three personnel matters at the beginning of Tuesday’s news conference – fullback Matt Lindamood, a rising senior, has opted to end his football career because of frequent injuries; defensive end Derrick Bryant, who transferred from UCLA last fall but did not see action, is no longer with the team and senior cornerback Pat Miller had surgery on his right foot and will undergo a two-month recovery process … Holgorsen expects Miller to be ready to go for voluntary workouts this summer … Holgorsen noted that senior Donovan Miles has been moved from linebacker to fullback to help with depth at that position, and the coach also indicated that there has been some rotating of players at the defensive line spots although he noted that it wasn’t major news right now … Overall, Holgorsen said he is most pleased with the way the offense and the defense has been battling each other in practice, “I had a little concern with that since we have a new defensive scheme and on offense we have nine starters back, but the defense has done well,” Holgorsen said … Holgorsen wants to see more improvement in situational play, particularly increasing its touchdown percentage in the red zone and more consistent play in short yardage situations … Holgorsen said the team’s first six practices before spring break involved the installation of the offense, now, the team is refining what was installed ... tickets remain on sale for this year's Gold-Blue Spring Game at Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday, April 21, with a portion of this year's proceeds once again benefitting WVU Children's Hospital ... to order your tickets log on to WVUGAME.com.