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McBrien hopes to make impression

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- Last year at this time, West Virginia University fans, players and coaches alike were wondering what would happen if Marc Bulger went down.

Brad Lewis answered that question in the fall, when he did an admirable job in Bulger's stead.

But no one knew for sure just how Lewis would fare when tossed into game action. He had not stood out during spring or fall drills.

Now, a similar scene has developed. Only this time, backup Scott McBrien wants to have the full confidence of the coaching staff by the time fall drills start.

"What I'm trying to do this spring is prove myself to the coaches," McBrien said Thursday, after completing nine of 12 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown in a controlled scrimmage.

"I'm just trying to get the coaches to give me a good look."

McBrien's play certainly was noticed by coach Don Nehlen.

"I thought the little lefthander did a lot of good things out there," Nehlen said following the scrimmage. "Right now, he still really doesn't know what he's doing, but he's coming along quite nicely."

McBrien has surprised many with his arm strength.

Although he's listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds in the media guide, he looks more like he's 6-1 and 170 pounds.

"He eats all the time," Nehlen said. "It's funny. He eats everything in sight and can hardly gain anything.

"But really, he has averaged gaining about a pound a week over the winter."

McBrien hopes to continue his weight gain through the spring and summer.

"I'll be busy in the weight room and keep up my eating," McBrien said. "I need to have the weight by the time fall gets here because you tend to lose weight have drills start.

"The important thing is that what I gain is all muscle."

McBrien's arm strength was evident on a long pass intended for Shawn Terry.

McBrien lofted the ball high in the air and it came down perfectly 50 yards down the field. For some reason, Terry didn't extend out his arms to catch the ball and it fell incomplete.

"The coaches just told me to get it up high and just lay it out there," McBrien said of the throw. "We practice throwing deep balls all the time, so it doesn't surprise me that I'm getting better at it."

While admitting he's just trying to get noticed now, McBrien made it quite clear he plans to challenge Lewis for the starting job when August rolls around.

"I think there's a good chance of me winning this job," McBrien said. "I'm by no means content with being the backup.

"Brad's got number one right now and really, it's his job to lose. I'm supporting him every way I can and he's supporting me because he was in my shoes last year and knows the same thing could happen to him that happened to Bulger last year."

What does McBrien need to do seriously challenge Lewis?

"Brad's got the offense down pat," McBrien said. "I'm still learning it and it's going to take awhile longer.

"I think that's the biggest advantage he has on me and it's up to me to learn the offense and run it the way the coaches want it run."

Whether he wins the starting job or not, McBrien has already laid to rest the notion that WVU won't have a capable backup signal caller when Boston College invades Mountaineer Field Sept. 2.

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