MORGANTOWN - Don Barclay has not exactly had a taxing spring. West Virginia's starter at left tackle the past two seasons has spent most of the Mountaineers' spring drills walking around and watching.
He's not hit anyone or even put on a helmet. He and 2010 starting right tackle Jeff Braun both had shoulder surgery in January and while they attend practices and actually do some light footwork drills here and there, for the most part they are spectators.
Yet Barclay insists the experience has been beneficial.
"I've managed to pick up the techniques the new guy teaches,'' Barclay said. "And I think I've probably learned a little something about trying to help guys and teach them things because that's pretty much all I can do.''
With Barclay and Braun both missing, new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is doing his best to piece together a line that can function during spring drills, while at the same time evaluating the talent on hand. The two tackles should return healthy and ready to play by the time fall camp opens in early August.
If Barclay is concerned that he is falling behind while others have the opportunity to make an impression on Bedenbaugh, he doesn't show it. Perhaps that's because Bedenbaugh is Barclay's third line coach in his four seasons at WVU, beginning with Greg Frey in 2007, Dave Johnson in 2008-10 and now Bedenbaugh.
By this point, Barclay is probably used to proving himself.
"It's all football, but each coach has a different style,'' Barclay said. "He's more energetic and he'll get on you. He expects it out of you. He spends a lot of time teaching stuff and so he expects to see improvement every day. You never want to go backward.''
And, truth be told, the difference in how the linemen actually play under Bedenbaugh might be insignificant in the grand scheme. By all accounts, the biggest difference so far has been simplification of what the linemen are asked to do, so that's not nearly as challenging as going the other way - to a more complex scheme.
"I'm always in meetings and I'm always out on the field,'' Barclay said. "The schemes are a little bit different, but I've taken so many mental reps. It's still zone blocking and pass protecting, but you can always get better with what they have to offer.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.