MORGANTOWN - For West Virginia University senior offensive guard Jeff Braun, preparing for the upcoming football season is "all about the weight."
Not the wait resulting from the Mountaineers move from the Big East to the Big 12, which will culminate when the Baylor Bears come to Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 29. But, the weight that results from eating either too much or too little food.
"The biggest thing that I was trying to do this summer is lose some weight," explained Braun. "But, I lost too much. Right now, I'm down to 314 and they (the coaches) want me at about 318."
West Virginia University offensive lineman Jeff Braun will be moving to right guard this fall as the Mountaineers experience their first season in the Big 12 Conference. (File Photo)
Dealing with weight issues, however, is nothing new to the native of Westminister, Md.
"By the end of last season, just around the Orange Bowl, I weighed around 330 pounds. That was a little too heavy for me so I want to peak off at the end of the season around 323 or so. If I can start lower, then I can go longer."
Going longer is something Braun, who will move over to right guard with the return of senior Josh Jenkins to the team's starting lineup, understands will be needed as WVU is entering a conference where offenses have dominated in recent years.
"With the Big 12, all you hear about are all of the snaps we are going to take," continued Braun. "We are spending this summer preparing our bodies for all of the snaps that we are going to take. So, it's better if I can remain lighter right now."
Playing a lot of snaps is nothing new to West Virginia's front five. Braun saw action on 70 or more plays in five games during WVU's 10-3 campaign last fall. Three of those contests witnessed the Winters Mill High School product seeing action on 80 plays-topped by an 87-play performance in the Mountaineers' loss to LSU.
The senior also understands that the additional weight will help him deal with the more explosive defensive linemen he will see in the Big 12.
"I think everyone's going to be faster. Not much more faster than the Big East, but I think their depth will be better. They are going to bring guys in that are just as good as their 1s (starters).
"And, I'm pretty sure that their D-tackles are going to be bigger. We were used to a lot of time in the Big East that D-ends would become converted D-tackles and linebackers wound be converted to D-ends. Now, I think they (the Big 12) are going to have really big D-tackles and really fast D-ends."
Something Braun and his teammates have seen in the past, however.
"Clemson was like that. They had two real good D-tackles and a great D-end. You just play the way you know how to play. You just have to have great technique and play hard."
Two things offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has stressed from the day he arrived on the Morgantown campus.
"His (Bedenbaugh's) approach is a little bit different from our other coaches," said Braun. "He is really big on technique and he doesn't mind letting us know it when our technique is bad and it costs us a negative play."
Something that didn't happen on a regular basis with Braun, who surrendered only one sack in 2011, as WVU's offense-led by quarterback Geno Smith, wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and running backs Dustin Garrison and Shawne Alston-averaged 37.6 points per game and finished with 4,500 passing yards and more than 6,100 total yards of offense.
"Right now, I'm excited to play at Texas," Braun said. "That's one of the biggest stadiums in college football and the atmosphere is going to be great. I remember going down to LSU and Auburn and how the fans were there so I'm expecting a lot of the same when we play on the road in the Big 12."
And, the "wait" is almost over as training camp opens in August.