Credit West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen for having an apparent extreme sense of humor.
Madsen and the OL have given Geno Smith plenty of time to throw this year.
While Geno Smith continues to put up Heisman Trophy-caliber numbers, and receive numerous national awards in the process, there is one barrier he can’t crack.
He has yet to win West Virginia’s Offensive Champion award.
This week it was center Joey Madsen. Fellow lineman Jeff Braun even took the award earlier this season during the Mountaineers’ 4-0 start.
Maybe this will be the week, when the Mountaineers travel to Texas in a 7 p.m. game in Austin.
Not that it matters.
There is a method to Holgorsen’s madness. As the coach stated earlier this season, Geno Smith is going to get his awards.
Fact is, Madsen played well in a monumental Texas-style shoot 70-63 win over Baylor last weekend. And he probably deserved the award, as the line did a god job protecting Smith, who threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns and opened lanes for Andrew Buie and the rushing attack to run for over 100 yards.
“I took some criticism from some people for naming him the offensive champion, but those plays never get started without a center that does everything right,” Holgorsen explained. “You can delete a few of those touchdowns or rushing yards if the center isn’t doing his job. It wasn’t just the center, though. The whole offensive line played well. Joey graded out the best out of all them, so he is the one that earned that award.”
Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson noticed it, too.
“Defenses are set to cover about three seconds,” Dawson said. “You can watch those plays (against Baylor); it makes it tough on defenses. And that is a credit to up front (the offensive line). I thought we played great up front and giving Geno time was crucial.”
Smith has time and time again lauded the play of his offensive line, led by the experience of Madsen and fellow senior guards Braun and Josh Jenkins.
But it all starts with Madsen. Snaps are often overlooked in the scheme of what happens, except by coaches.
“That is one thing that gets overlooked when it comes to Geno’s play,” Holgorsen said. “Who has been snapping the ball to Geno since Geno has been here? It has been Joey. Jeff (Braun) is right there, too. There is a level of comfort that exists. To have a consistent center-quarterback exchange is something that is often overlooked. (Long snapper) Cody Nutter was great last year, but no one ever talked about him. He is a guy that has been missed.”
Madsen and the line truly appreciate the exploits of the playmakers, but the big guy couldn’t resist injecting a little humor into the mix.
“He had tons of time,” Madsen said, drawing laughter. “He definitely took advantage of it when he needed to. When he didn’t have as much time he was, as always, elusive and got out of the way and threw the ball down field.”
Madsen joked that the line got credit for all eight touchdown passes.
“The one touchdown was so far we didn’t want to run so we had our own little party at the 50 yard line,” he said.
The center/quarterback are as different as different can be when dealing with the media. Smith is stoic, rarely joking, and Madsen is one of the team’s comedians.
“I always try to get him hyped up and he just gives me the same, “Yep, OK,’” Madsen said. “That’s him. It’s awesome. He keeps his composure and gets the job done.”
Madsen knows Texas will try to tempo down the game, not wanting to engage Smith and the high-octane Mountaineers in a shootout as did Baylor.
But the line is prepared in case it happens.
“You have to be prepared to run 90-plus plays a game,” Madsen said. “So we are ready.”