WVU football: Mountaineers coach Holgorsen disappointed’ in Madsen
BRONX, N.Y. -- West Virginia arrived for Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl with all but one player. Senior center Joey Madsen was the only one of the Mountaineers not to make the trip with the team and Coach Dana Holgorsen said Wednesday Madsen will miss the game against Syracuse because he's academically ineligible.
The Daily Mail first reported the story Wednesday.
"We're disappointed that he didn't take care of business," Holgorsen said. "The expectation for our guys is to go to class, get good grades, leave West Virginia with a good, quality education and a degree."
Madsen, from Chardon, Ohio, had started 50 of the past 51 games for WVU. The exception was the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl, when he was also ruled out because of grades. The school record for starts is 52, set by former center Dan Mozes.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Madsen led all of WVU's offensive linemen with 55 knockdowns, or 4.2 per game. He'd played all but eight of WVU's 490 snaps on offense this season and was second-team all-Big 12.
"I spoke to him," quarterback Geno Smith said. "Joey is Joey. He understands he let the team down, but that he also let himself down and let his family down. That's enough for me. I don't want to get on the guy."
Senior John Bassler is listed as Madsen's backup, but WVU (7-5) seems prepared to go in a different direction.
Senior Jeff Braun, who starts at right guard, can play center. Junior Pat Eger started the first six games at right tackle, but hasn't started there since. He's relieved Braun at right guard when Braun has missed time in games this season and is listed as the backup there. Eger has started 18 times in 27 career games, but all at right tackle.
Holgorsen wouldn't say what the Mountaineers will do, but Smith hinted Braun will start in Madsen's place.
"The big thing for me is making sure Braun is set and knows what's going on, but that shouldn't be a problem because he's a veteran," Smith said. "He's a senior, as well, and he's also played that position."
The Orange (7-5) employ what Holgorsen called a "dial-a-blitz" defense that blitzes on about half of the snaps and likes to mix up the attacks, which demands a certain experience to identify and communicate along the offensive line. Syracuse ranks No. 61 in sacks per game (2.0) and No. 10 in tackles for a loss per game (7.5). WVU opponents average 1.67 sacks and 7.25 tackles for a loss per game.
In the past two games between the two teams, both WVU losses, Syracuse totaled nine sacks and 17 tackles for a loss. Orange defensive coordinator Scott Shafer said his team probably won't target the center solely because he's new and said the idea is "too far outside the box."
"I think it's hard to," he said. "It's a particular position. A skill position is a little different than the guys up front. I think what you do is what you do and you go in and play as hard as you can play and as well as you can play and don't worry about it."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.