MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Ron Crook swore that he was different.
It was early August, just after West Virginia had begun what would be a month of practice leading up to last week's opener against William & Mary. I sat there one morning and listened to him talk about the need not only to develop depth along the offensive line, but to use it.
Yadda, yadda, yadda, I all but told him after listening to his pitch.
"You know,'' I told Crook, "I've known a lot of offensive line coaches and every one of them has said the same thing. They all talk about how hard it is to play 70 or 80 or 90 snaps a game on the line and how they have to get at least seven or eight guys ready and let them play. And then almost without fail they find five they like and play them until they can't play another down.''
Crook just smiled. He knew exactly what I was talking about. He understood the skepticism.
But he also tried to convince me he was different.
"I know what you're talking about. I've seen it a lot. But I do try to [rest them],'' Crook said. "I think my history has been trying to get guys on the field that deserve to be on the field. Not just to put them out there, but I think if a guy deserves to be on the field, we're going to give him that chance.''
Well, turns out Crook wasn't just blowing smoke. He actually did rotate his linemen. He rested them.
In West Virginia's season opener against William & Mary, Quinton Spain, Curtis Feigt, Marquis Lucas, Mark Glowinski and Tyler Orlosky started. It was just one series later that Pat Eger was in the game. A series later, Nick Kindler showed up.
And as the day wore on, they did, in fact, rotate. Eger was on the field replacing Lucas and Glowinski at the guard spots. Kindler was there giving Spain and Feigt a rest at tackle. Without having actually charted the line substitutions, it might be safe to say that at almost no point did the same offensive line take the field for consecutive series.
Yes, it was exactly what Crook had promised. But that didn't make the actual implementation any more surprising.
"Yeah, I've never been part of an offensive line that did that before,'' Eger said.