WVU Gameday Blog

The More You Know … about some hoops recruits

Mitch found out a couple of basketball recruiting tidbits Tuesday:

So who are these guys?

Muhammad is a four-star shooting guard from Hudson Catholic in Jersey City. He’s ranked No. 76 overall by 247Sports, No. 15 among shooting guards and No. 5 in New Jersey. Ohio State, St. John’s, Virginia, Xavier are all hot on his trail.

Doomes is a three-star guard rated No. 175 nationally, No. 41 among shooting guards and No. 17 in Florida. He has offers from Auburn, Ole Miss, UAB and Middle Tennessee, but according to 247Sports, not one from the Mountaineers just yet. Looks like that could change.

Allen played at Chaminade-Madonna in Hollywood, Florida, before going juco. He had offers from Florida Gulf Coast, Iowa State and Kent State among others, and took an unofficial visit to WVU on July 5.

So now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Holgorsen Press Conference News and Notes, Kansas Week

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen displayed a lot of respect for his team’s upcoming opponent – Kansas – during his weekly media session Tuesday.

He mentioned the familiarity between the two programs, having been conference foes for the last five years, as well as a number of coaches on both sides that have crossed paths more than once during their tenures.

“Can’t face an opponent that we know more about,” Holgorsen said.

Here are some additional notes:

WVU Getting Healthy

When asked to update the status on a few injured players, Holgorsen perked up all ears in attendance when he said players like Brandon Lingafelter, Toyous Avery and, most notably, linebacker David Long, are all progressing well in their returns from injury.

All three will make the trip to Kansas this weekend, though it remains to see if any will be active.

Grier Garners “QB Gene”

Asked about WVU’s starting quarterback, and the relationship his has with the players, Holgorsen said that Will Grier has that “starting quarterback gene” that allows him to not only be a good quarterback but also has guys gravitate towards him.

Wellman Doing Well. CFB Shift?

One player in particular that Holgorsen seems to be pleased with thus far is halfback Elijah Wellman.

The head coach stated he’s done a good job blocking and acting as a “sixth O-lineman out there.”

Along those lines, he mentioned that he has seen a shift in college football of coaches using players like Wellman more often. This is because of their athleticism and versatility of being able to get out and block, as well as pass catch, out in space.

Wellman certainly fits that mold.

Jayhawks to Watch

With a slight smile on his face, Holgorsen said he didn’t want to leave anyone out when asked to highlight a few of the key players on Kansas, saying he didn’t want to motivate any Jayhawk player he didn’t name outright.

However, he did highlight a few.

Both No. 11’s – safety Mike Lee and wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. – were highlighted.

Sims racked up a conference-best 207 all-purpose yards against SE Missouri St. Lee averages seven tackles a game.

Junior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. paces the Big 12 in tackles with 38, nine more than any other player.

How do they compare?

Kansas football coach David Beaty had some high praise for WVU’s offense during this week’s Big 12 conference call. He has an up-close and personal look at that group this week, with the Mountaineers visiting the Jayhawks at noon Saturday. He’s been watching plenty of West Virginia film, so it’s an educated opinion.

WVU coach Dana Holgorsen, on the other hand, wasn’t ready just yet to anoint this crew — including QB Will Grier, RB Justin Crawford and WRs David Sills, Marcus Simms, Gary Jennings and Ka’Raun White — the second coming of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Steadman Bailey, et al.

“Collectively, they have a chance to be good. They’re not anywhere close to where I think they’ll be toward the end of the season. By no means am I ready to compare any of them to those guys of my past.”

Holgorsen may not be ready to compare, but we here at the Gameday blog have no problem doing just that. Below is the list of passing, rushing and total offense numbers from 2011 to 2017. Now, I totally understand comparing this season with past seasons isn’t entirely fair, since those prior seasons include games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and others that the 2017 team has yet to play. But we can at least see where this team is trending.

Passing offense

2011 — 346.8 ypg

2012 — 329.6 ypg

2013 — 262.1 ypg

2014 — 317.0 ypg

2015 — 251.5 ypg

2016 — 257.2 ypg

2017 — 369.3 ypg

Rushing offense

2011 — 122.69 ypg

2012 — 170.92 ypg

2013 — 148.67 ypg

2014 — 182.77 ypg

2015 — 228.23 ypg

2016 — 228.38 ypg

2017 — 212.0 ypg

Total offense

2011 — 469.5 ypg

2012 — 500.5 ypg

2013 — 410.8 ypg

2014 — 499.8 ypg

2015 — 479.7 ypg

2016 — 485.5 ypg

2017 — 581.3 ypg

Again, this year is through three games against a good Virginia Tech team, an awful East Carolina team and a FCS-level Delaware State team. But even if the numbers slip a little, WVU is on pace for the best passing and total offensive numbers of Holgorsen’s tenure. The questions are: Can they keep it up? If not, how close can they stay to those numbers?

 

Big 12 Stock Evaluation

Non-conference play is a good litmus test for teams and conferences to see where they stand against their competitors.

Only four Big 12 teams – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech – remain undefeated through the first three weeks of the season, meaning their stock is in good shape.

On the other end of the spectrum, Baylor (0-3) is the only Power-5 team to have played two or more games that remains without a win, and with its upcoming schedule including at least two ranked opponents, you couldn’t sell its stock to anyone if you were an owner.

As for the rest of the conference, their stock remains somewhat in question. But here are a few answers.

Texas – Sell Now

Texas is back? It’s a question asked for a few years now that seems to have an answer, but comes into question on a semi-weekly basis.

The Longhorns looked good against USC Saturday, but are still not “back,” which is why you should sell.

After a bye week, Tom Herman’s club hits the road to take on an Iowa State team that knows it should be undefeated at this point. Following their trip to Ames, the Longhorns must face Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Stiff competition could bring out the best in Texas, but the program’s fourth 1-2 start in the last five years and the schedule that looms suggests otherwise.

Texas Tech – Buy Cautiously

In just two games, Texas Tech’s offense has put up 110 points and new quarterback Nic Shimonek is just 73 yards short of 1,000 passing yards. The post-Patrick-Mahomes-era is off to a good start.

The Red Raiders will look to move to 3-0 this weekend at Houston, but starting there things get tricky. The Cougar defense is giving up less than 10 points per game so far.

Next up is Oklahoma State, another quality defense. A trap-game trip to Kansas follows. Kliff Kingsbury’s offense will be tested over the next two weeks.

If you’re in a buying mood, take a look at the Red Raiders, but re-evaluate after Saturday.

West Virginia – Buy

Dana Holgorsen’s offense has been gaining yards at a frantic pace over the first three weeks of the season, and is coming off back-to-back 50-plus point performances.

The offense has been clicking and should continue to this weekend against the Jayhawks. The defense has not been as fluid, but potentially three consecutive weeks of a point differential of 30 or more looks good on paper, at least.

West Virginia will then have a week off to prepare for a trip to Dallas to face a ranked Horned Frog team.

Buy the Mountaineers for this reason: The schedule is still very manageable at this point. WVU should be no worse than 5-2, potentially 6-1, heading into its home game on October 28 against Oklahoma State. With that being the case, there is going to be a good return on investment for when the schedule strengthens up.

Oklahoma – Buy it all

The Sooners rank as the 12th-best defense in the Power-5 in terms of points allowed.

Oklahoma has already played what looks to be its toughest test until November, and Baker Mayfield has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country thus far.

With it looking more likely than not that the Sooners will enter the Bedlam rivalry undefeated, you should be all in on Oklahoma.

 

Kicking it

Western Kentucky place kicker Skyler Simcox (88) takes a moment before a field goal attempt against Florida International in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Bowling Green, Ky. (AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.)

You heard about WVU kicker commitment Sklyer Simcox on Monday. You’ll hear a lot more about him this spring.

Simcox, a former Division III all-conference selection and former starter at Western Kentucky, is coming to WVU in January as a graduate transfer. And that should tell you something, namely that Dana Holgorsen isn’t set on the replacement for senior kicker Mike Molina.

Why so sure? I think we all know one thing about grad transfers — they don’t go anywhere to sit the bench. They head to places where they feel they have a great chance to start, and he’ll have two years of eligibility to do it. The Mountaineers have four kickers besides Molina listed on the roster — Luke Hogan, Evan Staley, Billy Kinney and Jonn Young. And Simcox has something the other four don’t have:  prior FBS starting experience.

So when spring rolls around, keep an eye out for Simcox. He probably won’t be hard to find.

Mitch Vingle A.P. Top 25 vote, Sept. 17

Good Sunday to you, my friends. Here’s my latest vote, fresh from my computer room:
1. Alabama
2. Oklahoma
3. Clemson
4. Penn State
5. Oklahoma State
6. USC
7. Washington
8. Michigan
9. Wisconsin
10. Florida State
11. Ohio State
12. Georgia
13. Virginia Tech
14. TCU
15. Miami
16. Auburn
17. Mississippi State
18. Louisville
19. Florida
20. Washington State
21. Maryland
22. San Diego State
23. WVU
24. LSU
25. Utah

Gameday Live: WVU hosts Delaware State

The Mountaineers close their non-conference schedule with a home game versus Delaware State. Mitch Vingle is at Puskar Stadium. Follow the action with him right here.

 

A look in the mirror

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen walks off the field after an NCAA college football game against Virginia Tech in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. Virginia Tech won 31-24. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Let’s be honest here. The outcome of this game really won’t be in doubt unless most of the WVU football team comes down with a case of food poisoning from the Friday night team meal. The last time this Delaware State team played an FBS foe, the Missouri team that the Mountaineers beat last year thumped DSU 79-0.

No, the most important thing that will happen Saturday is that the entire WVU team will get a good look at what it can do well and what it really needs to improve. Because if something falters against Delaware State, it really needs to go back to the drawing board.

You’ll never hear a WVU player or coach say that, though.

“We always talk about respecting our opponent and this week is no different than Virginia Tech. We expect our guys to line up and focus on themselves and try to improve. That was the message this week.”

The WVU defense has plenty of room for improvement. It’s 112th nationally in yards allowed. That’s not good with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State still on the docket.

If anything, the Mountaineers should get some good film to analyze their own players, their tendencies, their successes and their faults. WVU eases into the Big 12 schedule with Kansas, gets a bye week, then it’s off to the races. The coaches can use this game to get their eyes on most of the roster in game situations.

The corner conundrum

Virginia Tech wide receiver Cam Phillips, right, catches a pass as he is pressured by West Virginia cornerback Mike Daniels Jr. in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WVU has a cornerback depth chart. Whether it’s written in ink or pencil is another matter entirely.

The latest chart isn’t any different than the first two — Hakeem Bailey and Mike Daniels are the starters and Elijah Battle and Corey Winfield are the backups. Yet defensive coordinator Tony Gibson doesn’t exactly sound married to it.

“The depth chart is never set. It’s for one game or one week. Right now we’re really still in the process.”

From Gibson’s words, it doesn’t sound like a talent issue as much as it does a confidence issue.

“They’re all good players. And they all have great confidence in practice. But then we get to the games and I don’t know what happens to them. We have to keep coaching them up and working to develop depth.”

None of that sounds exactly promising. And, honestly, the first warning that corners could be an issue came when Bailey, a juco transfer, and Daniels, used mostly on special teams prior to this season, took the No. 1 jobs from a veteran corner and a former Syracuse starter.  Now, Gibson is talking about adding corner depth by converting a freshman safety, Kenny Robinson, to the position.

There are 10 players listed as corners on WVU’s roster. Now, some of them are scout-team guys, but that’s saying something when you have to go poaching from another position to get the player you need. Considering the Mountaineers are 96th in the FBS in passing yards allowed and 73rd in pass efficiency defense, every option should be on the table. And a game like Saturdays versus Delaware State will be a great one to test out some new ideas.

Holgorsen Press Conference News and Notes

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen during the first half/second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

Technology is all the rage these days, and teams are taking advantage of it. West Virginia is no different, using GPS technology to track its players.

WVU meets GPS

Wide receiver Gary Jennings ran over 10 miles two weekends ago against Virginia Tech. How does the Mountaineer coaching staff know that? GPS tracking.

The Mountaineers have begun using technologies such as that in order to gauge performance from their players.

“We measure how far, how long and how hard they’re going,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Not only are the players being gauged, but they are engaging the numbers.

Holgorsen said that players are comparing their numbers, which are posted for the team, against one another and that it’s even fueling some friendly competition within the program.

Prepping for Delaware St.

Tuesday was the first mandatory day for the Mountaineers following their 56-20 thumping of ECU on Saturday. Holgorsen said the players were given Sunday and Monday off to rest due to NCAA regulations based on the scheduling of the first two games.

Starting today, though, all focus is on the Hornets of Delaware State.

“I thought we did a good job of preparing like we always do,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t think this week will be any different (than any other).”

The head coach made it a point to address that WVU is focusing on this weekend’s game like they would any other, despite the opponent.

Areas of Improvement

Overall, Holgorsen seemed pleased with his team’s performance on Saturday, especially the first team unit on offense. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any needed improvements.

Players staying on their feet is one area. Holgorsen noted that players have to stay up right, especially those players that are supposed to be blocking.

He also felt that the second team unit missed out on some opportunities, excluding second-string QB Chris Chugunov.

“I thought he’s looked as good as he’s looked since I’ve been here,” Holgorsen said.

The need for speed

Most media members in attendance Saturday noticed the impact of wide receiver Marcus Simms, who caught one pass for a 52-yard touchdown.

Holgorsen also noticed the jolt he brings to the offense.

“What he brings to the table is… he brings speed, which we need,” Holgorsen said. “We need guys out there that can stretch things.”

However, the head coach emphasized that the wideout still needs to work on consistency.