MORGANTOWN - What a difference a year makes.
Just ask Parkersburg South graduate Ron Crook, who is preparing to open his second spring drills as the offensive line coach at West Virginia University.
"Last year at this time, I was still trying to figure out how to call a play," Crook said during Friday's media day luncheon. "Now, I understand all of that. I understand where we are going. I feel good about the direction we are going.
"It (that I understand where we are going) is the biggest difference for me."
It also doesn't hurt that the players who will make up this year's offensive front have had a season under his guidance and enter the 2014 campaign with a better understanding of what will expected of them when they take the field for the season-opener against Alabama.
"I think that you always have to include toughness, attitude and physical play in there," said the West Liberty State College graduate and former Stanford University assistant. "Regardless of where you are, even if you are one of the dominant teams in the country, you are going to say that."
Crook also will have a number of players returning that have had a year under his system.
Returning for his fifth season will be 342-pound left guard Quinton Spain as well as right guard Mark Glowinski (306, Senior) and part-time starting center Tyler Orlosky (299, So.).
"We still have some questions at tackle that we have to resolve," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "But, we seem to have some people here that can fill those spots and we have some people coming that can if they can't."
Tops among those in camp will be 312-pound junior Marquis Lucas and sophomore Adam Pankey (304).
"Adam (Pankey) played much of the second half of the season at left tackle so we left him there," said Crook. "He's got a little bit of a comfort level. Marquis (Lucas) came in as a tackle and played some there, but we moved him to guard.
"To me it makes sense for those guys who have been here for a while and played some games to get a shot."
That doesn't mean replacements won't be in camp when practice begins on Sunday.
Sylvester Townes, a 285-pound tackle from Memphis, Tenn., enrolled at WVU in January after playing two seasons at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Miss.
"Being able to come in in January is huge," added Crook. "You get a chance to get those spring practices. You get a chance to learn terminology. He's going through meetings that we have and when the guys go out and work on their own, they are trying to help him with technique."
And, there also appears to be some depth up front with the return of Michael Calicchio, Russell Haughton-James, Zack Johnson, Marcell Lazard, Grant Lingafelter, Tony Matteo, Tyler Tezeno, Stone Underwood and Brendan Willis and the signing of Dontae Angus, Amanii Brown, Yodny Cajuste, Walter Rauterkus and Justin Scott.
"I think you have inside guys and you have outside guys," explained Crook. "Stone (Underwood) is a backup guard, but he is also a center. Almost all of the guards practice snapping the ball so if we are ever in a situation.
"So, I think centers and guards are pretty interchangeable. Tackles going from left side to right side are usually interchangeable. But, it's tough to go from guard to tackle."
It's also tough to win in the Big 12, or any other contest, without an offensive front that displays toughness, attitude and physical play.