MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Just when Dana Holgorsen began feeling a little bit better about finding a center or two to work in the middle of his revamped offensive line, the most promising of the bunch went down with an ankle injury.
Pat Eger was hurt near the end of Tuesday's practice - the first for West Virginia since returning from spring break - and how serious it is remains to be seen.
It was the same ankle on which Eger had surgery just after the end of last season.
"I don't know the severity of it, but he didn't finish practice,'' Holgorsen said. "He's coming off that ankle surgery that kept him out for six of our first eight weeks of offseason conditioning. Pat was starting to get back into the swing of things and he went down. I hope it is not serious at all.''
Eger, who has started at both tackle and guard the last two seasons, is a fifth-year senior who was asked to move to center because the Mountaineers lost four-year starter Joe Madsen and his backup, guard Jeff Braun, to graduation. The spot is critical not only because of the center snaps, but also because the center makes all the line calls and adjustments.
The early returns on Eger's snaps were not good, but they've been improving.
"Madsen was around for a couple of days and had kind of worked with Pat a little bit with his snaps, which have drastically improved,'' Holgorsen said. "There were probably only 25 percent of the snaps in the first couple of days that were even fieldable. It was not good.
"But what do you expect? You're moving two guys to center that have never played center. They have really improved. Both Pat and [Tyler] Orlosky are doing some good things. They have to go against Shaq [Rowell] and Christian [Brown], two very big, capable bodies to play defensive nose tackle, so they have their work cut out for them. I'm pleased where it's at.''
Or at least he was prior to the injury to Eger.
"Our doctors don't know yet. It just happened,'' Holgorsen said. "I do believe that it's the same ankle, which he had his ankle cleaned up and was back in six weeks. Hopefully it's not any worse than that.''
There are, of course, other options at center. In addition to those already in the program, Holgorsen recruited a junior college center specifically because he was short-handed at the position. He's Stone Underwood, from Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi.