By Dave Morrison
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Even the most hard-core West Virginia football fan has to acknowledge that he or she had no idea who Curtis Feigt was before the 21-20 Backyard Brawl win over Pitt.
Feigt is not your typical Mountaineer story.
The 6-foot-6, 314-pound Feigt (pronounced fight) is an interesting story. Admittedly, I had seen the name listed on the roster, but never paid much attention, outside of the obvious size of the kid.
He is listed as a redshirt sophomore from Mercerburg Academy in Maryland.
But the fine print tells you a little bit more.
First of all, he hails from Berlin, Germany, the fertile recruiting area that it is.
He came to WVU from the state of Maryland, where he moved as a junior in high school, as a defensive lineman but by American standards, he was never going to make it there. There are speed issues, after all.
WVU’s coaching staff moved him to offensive line “last winter” and he said he felt like he “was starting over.”
On Friday night, the journey came full circle, when he and redshirt freshman Quinton Spain were inserted into the lineup to help ignite a rushing attack that had negative-2 yards rushing in the first half.
It turned out to be Feigt night at Milan Puskar Stadium.
“If you’re second string you don’t really expect to get in,” Feigt said.
“When you wake up (in the morning before the game) you’re not like, ‘I’m going to get to play today.’ When (offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh) said I was going to start out the second half I was like, ‘All right, I’ve got to get ready to go and execute to the best of my ability.’”
Bedenbaugh said that Feigt had been brought up from the scout team a couple weeks before Friday’s game.
Actually, Feigt said his first thoughts after Bedenbaugh told him that he and Quinton Spain were starting the second half weren’t the above, but a more appropriate, “Oh, crap.”
Then again, he realized it could have been for a series or two, just to motivate starter Pat Eger.
But this was no motivational ploy. And after initially battling the nerves, Feigt responded.
West Virginia rushed for 115 yards in the second half and Feigt threw a key block that sprung Shawne Alston for what proved to be the winning touchdown with 6:10 remaining. And quarterback Geno Smith was sacked just once in the second half, after three first half sacks.
“It means a lot that coach trusted me and my ability to go out there and then to keep me out there,” said Feigt. “After the first series he could have put (starter) Pat Eger back in.
“When they put me and Quinton in, I think it brought a new fire along the line and everybody was excited that Quinton and I got a shot at playing.”
Coach Dana Holgorsen said it was “the right thing to do.”
Eger and Tyler Rader were struggling mightily on the right side against Pitt’s defensive front. And since Spain is listed as a backup at both positions, there had to be another body. And that belonged to the big German.
“Our play calling in the second half didn’t put as much pressure on the O-line,” Holgorsen said. “I thought our coaches did a good job at half-time of figuring out what we needed to do a little differently in order to move forward.”
And move forward they did.
Physically. It wasn’t an offensive line masterpiece, as Holgorsen readily admitted. But as the two, especially neophyte Feigt, settled in, as much as a big-bodied soul can settle, in, WVU took off. And because of that, the duo will start Thursday at South Florida.
“They’ve still got a long ways to go,” Holgorsen said. “They’re not fantastic by any stretch of the imagination, but they came in, didn’t bat an eye, but just went in and played. Feigt didn’t know very much — he’s played offensive line for a year. Spain is a freshman, so we’re talking about two young kids, but they’re massive.
“They’re big bodied, not try-hard guys, but big bodied guys that can physically handle the game. They’ll keep getting better. With practice and reps, they’ll keep getting better.
If you hadn’t heard of Feigt before, you have now.
After Friday’s second-half performance, you probably haven’t heard the last of him.
The Mountaineers (8-3, 4-2) travel to South Florida Thursday for the Big East season finale. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org