There's even a new level of confidence beyond Shorts. Mathis had been Shorts' backup, but Dawson said he's played well at the second inside position. He said Alford is coming along as he battles a foot injury and the volume of things he's had to learn in his month on campus.
"They've been doing well lately," Dawson said. "Mario's a talented kid, but the learning curve is different for certain people. He's been banged up in camp, so it's not really fair to him to say he's not doing this or doing that. He just hasn't been healthy and I understand that."
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SENIOR PAT Eger doesn't have a spot on the offensive line. He has three. Or four. Maybe five.
Eger experimented at center before injuring an ankle in spring football. He practiced at guard and tackle in camp, but has focused recently on guard. He hasn't stopped snapping and could play center in a tight spot.
"It's nice to be able to understand the entire concept, all the plays, all the different responsibilities and how everything works at every position," he said. "Anywhere I can go to help this team achieve its goals, that's what I'm going to do. If they want to line me up at tight end and go out and run routes, hey, if that helps, that's what I'll do.
"Wherever they put me, I'll be ready to go. Obviously, being able to play more positions is going to help us in the long run. It's a long season and we'll need the depth."
It seemed Eger was in line to start at center during the spring, but that belongs to redshirt freshman Tyler Orlosky. Eger had started at right tackle 18 times in his career, including six times last season, but junior Quinton Spain has the starting job on the left side and senior Curtis Feigt is starting on the right.
Even though Eger had played tackle, he has practiced at guard throughout his career because of persistent depth issues, and he played there late last season with a start at right guard in the Pinstripe Bowl. Yet junior college transfer Mark Glowinski is starting at right guard. That leaves the 6-6, 305-pound Eger battling sophomore Marquis Lucas at left guard.
Eger vows to be a factor, if not in versatility, than innovation.
"We get down to the goal line, they say No. 76 is eligible, I get out there and catch a little pass for my first college touchdown," he said. "I always said if there's a fumble inside the 10-yard line, I'm scooping and scoring. They always tell us to fall on it. I'm scooping and scoring."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.