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Mozes expected to contribute on offensive line

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- With three starters lost to graduation, West Virginia's offensive line will need to be retooled during spring drills.

Gone are All-Big East tackle Lance Nimmo, second-team All-Big East guard Ken Sandor and center Zack Dillow.

The Mountaineers do return versatile starters Tim Brown and Jeff Berk, along with lettermen Ben Timmons, Geoff Lewis and Justin Williams.

Just enough for a starting unit. But with injuries always a threat, the Mountaineer coaching staff is giving a hard look at redshirt freshman Dan Mozes.

"He's been doing great until today," WVU assistant head/offensive line coach Rick Trickett said following Tuesday's practice. "Maybe we need to cut back on his media time or something."

That aside, Trickett likes the progress Mozes (6-3, 285) has made.

"First of all, he's a real tough guy and I like that," Trickett said. "He's strong and he's physical.

"He has it all, except experience and I can't give that to him. That's something he'll have to earn."

Mozes nearly earned some last fall as a true freshman, as Trickett and the offensive staff were close to playing him. But the Washington, Pa., native is glad they didn't.

"When I first came here, I had the urge to play," Mozes said. "But now, I'm glad I've got four full years.

"I really didn't know a lot about offensive line play. In high school, I was just stronger than everybody else and used my upper body strength to throw opponents around.

"At this level, you need lower body strength and technique. I didn't have either last year."

Mozes could end up starting at guard, but said he'll play wherever he's needed.

"I kind of figured I'd play guard because tackles at this level are like Nimmo, 6-6 and 300 pounds with long arms," he said. "I feel like a short, little guy next to him.

"But I'll play guard, tackle or center for that matter."

Mozes worked hard on his lower body strength over the winter, but says he still doesn't match up in that aspect with WVU's upperclassmen. Mozes said he never did squats on hangcleans in high school.

Despite this, Mozes appears a certainty to see plenty of action this fall, either has a starter or top backup.

"He's someone who's worked hard and is learning what we need," Trickett said. "As long as he keeps focused, I think he's going to be a big help."

MOUNTAINEER NOTES: Former Grafton standout Travis Garrett, a second team offensive tackle, will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery to remove cartilage following a freak injury that occurred during warmups before last Saturday's scrimmage... The team scrimmaged near the end of Tuesday's practice and WVU coach Rich Rodriguez was pleased with the intensity, calling Saturday's scrimmage "a pillow fight."... Defensive players and coaches concluded Tuesday's workout with several pushups as offensive players watched in glee. The offense (Rasheed Marshall and Cassel Smith) scored touchdowns on the final two plays of the workout.

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com