WVU Gameday Blog

Mountaineer Offense Confident Following Scrimmage

Most teams introducing a new starting quarterback, a new offensive coordinator and a talented but somewhat inexperienced receiver unit may be left wondering what lies ahead of them entering the season.

West Virginia doesn’t fit that stereotype.

The Mountaineer offense seemed very confident in itself following Friday’s 100-play scrimmage at Milan Puskar Stadium.

“We were kicking (the defense) this week,” said Ka’Raun White. “But it’s all competitive, all love at the end of the day.”

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WVU redshirt-senior wide receiver Ka’Raun White talks to reporters on the field Friday following the Mountaineers scrimmage. Photo by Ryan Decker

Not only do the players sound confident in themselves, but are excited to be in an offense operated by new OC Jake Spavital.

“Coach (Spavital) is putting the players in great positions to make plays,” David Sills V said. “He’s calling great pass concepts. He’s getting the running backs in great positions to make plays. We’re also playing at a great tempo right now.”

As for the scrimmage itself, junior wideout Gary Jennings thought units from both sides of the ball made strides.

“We were able to go over many of our progressions, many of our plays, and I think it went very well overall, both offensively and defensively,” said Jennings.

Asked about how much farther the offense needs to go to be ready for the season opener next month, Jennings said they’re close.

“We’re meshing very well. We’re jelling very well,” he said. “We’re not far away from being very good.”

Jennings acknowledged that timing is coming together between quarterback Will Grier and the rest of the offense, and Sills agreed.

“Will’s put constant work in throughout the summer,” said Sills. “He’s very smart. He knows how to get us in good positions to get the ball and he’s very accurate whenever he throws the ball.”

Kennedy McKoy, who is expected to see a number of snaps both from the running back and inside receiver positions, detailed how the adjustment can help him have a better understanding no matter where he’s at on the field.

“Now when I’m at running back and (Grier) gives a signal, I know what the inside slot is going to do,” McKoy said. “So if I have a check down I know not to go in that area because I know what route he’s running. Yeah, it helps a lot.”

The sophomore tailback said it’s the little things that he’s focusing on now that he better knows the offense from both positions.

Last year the Mountaineer offense racked up an average of 485.5 yards per game, including over 220 yards on the ground for the second year in a row. But from a scoring standpoint, are looking to return to the numbers they were producing in 2011 and ’12 when Spavital was the quarterback coach.

Big 12 Notebook – August 10

AP photo
AP photo | Hey guys, Tom Herman isn’t jazzed about his team’s special teams play, either.

 

With football teams across the Big 12 landscape heading towards the midway point in fall training camp and practices before the start of the 2017 season, there are a number of points to go over.

But here are a few of the biggest notes from camps are some of the contenders in the conference, and one saddening note from off the gridiron.

Tom Herman, Texas HC

  • One similarity between WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen and Texas head coach Tom Herman’s media availabilities this week have been the importance of special teams. The Longhorns fell victim to four blocked kicks last year, which Herman said was, “unacceptable.”

“One blocked kick on the year, whether it be a PAT, field goal or punt is too many, and the stats back that up,” Herman said to reporters.

  • Herman’s first year in Austin should be highlighted by his quarterback Shane Buechele, offensively. However, the running back position could be a potential issue if no one emerges as the true lead back, as is the case so far according to the head coach. He did say, though, that’s OK as long as multiple tailbacks are putting in good work in practice.

“Would you like a guy to really, really separate himself? Yeah,” Herman said. “But if they don’t, but they’re all playing to an above-average to a winnable level, then I think that’s a good thing.

Texas is replacing the Big 12-leading rusher from a year ago D’Onta Foreman.

Oklahoma State

  • The Cowboys have been said by just about all college football experts to be one of the two best teams in the Big 12. Sports Illustrated recently went as far as to predict that Mike Gundy’s team would be one of the four to make the College Football Playoff. If that were to happen, OK-State would be the second team from the conference to make the CFP.

Both Gundy and his senior quarterback Mason Rudolph said it’s good for the program to get that sort of national attention. But, Gundy did say Rudolph and some of the other senior leaders have been a big help to him managing team expectations.

Oklahoma

  • Defensively there has been a shift in the scheming in Norman. The Sooners have made the change from a 3-4 to a 4-3 base defense, and even though it hasn’t been deployed in a regular season game yet, Oklahoma players appear to like the change.

“Honestly I just feel more free because there are fewer guards getting to me fast and more holes to fill,” senior linebacker Emmanuel Beal said to reporters Tuesday. “It allows us linebackers to play faster.”

Texas Tech

  • The Red Raiders are mourning the recent loss of incoming freshman Luke Gonsioroski, who passed away Monday after battling cancer.
CHRIS DORST | Gazette-Mail Where the magic happens ...

Andy Staples is a college football expert for SI.com. He’s a college town food expert for the same place. You probably would be, too, if your job consisted of criss-crossing the nation to dozens of college football sites and your palate had a distaste for chain restaurants.

So Staples recently released his top 25 favorite college town meals, and a West By God Virginia staple made the top 10. The Tudor’s biscuit was there at No. 10, with Staples saying “[b]efore all these hoity-toity artisanal biscuit places began opening with their $8 biscuit sandwiches, Tudor’s served giant, soft, fluffy biscuits stuffed with delicious meats and cheeses at a reasonable price. It still does.”

He endorses both the Mountaineer (country ham, hash browns, egg and cheese) and the Thundering Herd (swap out the country ham for sausage) and makes mention of Morgantown’s Huggie Bear (bacon, sausage, egg and cheese). (Sports editor’s note: I’m partial to the Duke — bacon, egg, cheese and a hash brown all on a biscuit. Great for my tummy. Bad for my cholesterol.)

The top 25 includes food in states from Texas to Utah, Michigan to Mississippi. And it includes plenty of barbecue (if you know Andy, you know that’s a given). So what say you guys, does Tudor’s rank properly in Andy’s top 25?

Holgorsen Press Conference News and Notes

Beginning with a suggestion to try Gatorade in a can, West Virginia football head coach Dana Holgorsen fielded questions from the media Wednesday afternoon.

Below are the biggest takeaways from the head coach:

West Virginia football head coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media Wednesday. Photo by Ryan Decker
West Virginia football head coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media Wednesday. Photo by Ryan Decker

Situational Drill Focused

Practice No. 10 for the Mountaineers will focus on situational execution. Red zone offense and defense, two-point conversions and special teams will be drilled the most. Holgorsen said this will be one of the final practices before getting into the more game-specific practices as the team gears up for the first game of the season against Virginia Tech.

“Still worried about us this week, still worried about us next week, and then we’ll get into Virginia Tech and try to get into a routine the following two weeks,” Holgorsen said.

 

 

Injured player updates

According to Holgorsen, Marvin Gross and Corey Winfield both have had successful surgeries and are expected to be out for a couple of weeks before returning to football activities. The head coach did say that both are, “progressing nicely,” but there is no set date for their return.

 

Inside the 20

Holgorsen said he likes what he’s seen thus far out of his wide receiving corps in the red zone. He mentioned that players such as Ka’Raun White and David Sills have emerged as potential consistent red-zone threats that the team hasn’t had over the past two years.

 

Waiting on Backups

Holgorsen mentioned that he is still waiting on viable options for backups at wide receiver and offensive line positions.

 

D is for Depth

Despite the feeling around the Big 12 being that West Virginia is once again retooling on defense, Holgorsen mentioned that he liked the depth of Tony Gibson’s group.

“A lot of depth on the D-Line, a lot of competition,” Holgorsen said. “Same thing at corner. You look at safety, we’ve got so much experience, and linebacker we have so much experience.”

 

Teaching the rivalry

When asked about informing his players on the importance and the history of the rivalry between the Mountaineers and the Hokies, the WVU head coach said he and his coaching staff are easing into the history lesson.

“Players don’t know anything (about the rivalry). It’s been (since) 2005” said Holgorsen. “It’s our job each and every week to educate our players on who the opponent is. We’ll do that more when it’s close.”

 

Listen to the remainder of Holgorsen’s remarks – picking up where the video left off – here.

 

Programming notes

Welcome back, everyone.

Hi everyone,

Gazette-Mail sports editor Derek Redd here, with a little bit of news about this chunk of cyberspace real estate. The WVU sports blog will be back up and running quite soon. And by quite soon, I mean today.

You’ll see a couple of names in this space providing WVU sports goodies throughout the season. One will be a familiar one to you all. Another will be a new face in the place.

Mitch Vingle

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s start with the familiar. Mitch Vingle has taken over the WVU beat for the Gazette-Mail. Readers have been soaking in his stuff since the 2017 preseason began and Mitch will keep rolling along. He’s been the WVPA’s Best Sports Column winner in Division I the past two years, has been a part of the West Virginia sports writing community since 1980 and has been a part of Charleston newspapers since 1994. He has a wealth of knowledge on WVU sports, which you already know and will continue to see.

Ryan Decker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, the new face. Everyone welcome Ryan Decker, who will be our intern for the sports season. Ryan is a broadcast journalism major at WVU, the sports director at the university’s radio station, U-92, and a contributor to West Virginia Illustrated. He also spent this past summer as the director of sports media for the Charlotte Crushers of the Carolina Virginia Collegiate League, a wood-bat summer league with teams in North Carolina and Virginia. Ryan comes highly recommended and is raring to go. You’ll see his first contributions later today.

So there you go. Don’t think we’ve boarded up the windows here. We just needed a little time off for some renovations. The WVU sports blog is back open for business.

Fin.

 

Here goes …

Continue reading…

Ah, yes, preseason season

This is, of course, very good for West Virginia’s football program. Recognition is important, especially after a 10-win season, and you can probably amplify things just a bit when you consider one player has never played for the Mountaineers, one missed last season with an injury and two are beginning their second seasons.

Also, if you haven’t made a watch list yet, you will soon.

Doug Belk’s shopping spree

Photo credit

Back when West Virginia plucked a graduate assistant from Alabama and named Doug Belk its cornerbacks coach, we anticipated a secondary benefit. Belk would recruit in Georgia, and the Mountaineers would on occasion be better for it.

Continue reading…

And another on the way?

Georgia (!) receiver Sam James committed to West Virginia’s 2018 recruiting class today, and that makes three receivers on a list of 10 players so far. The Mountaineers aren’t likely to sign a full class in February, and still there’s a chance at least one more receiver is added. I guess when you’re collecting quarterbacks at a prodigious rates, it helps to have people who can catch passes.

This is West Virginia safety Kyzir White changing Texas quarterback Shene Buechele’s life last season while also changing the game. The sack-forced fumble-fumble recovery — a play that was reviewed and then awarded WVU possession in Texas — ended a Longhorns possession in the red zone in the fourth quarter of a game the Mountaineers led 24-20 and won 24-20.

White played at 212 or so pounds last season. Remember, November is a month when active players tend to be at their lightest, so let’s say White was, oh, 207 pounds. He nevertheless waylaid the freshman quarterback.

Today, the starting spur safety is 220 pounds. He’s 6-2. “A lot of lifting,” he said.

He’s bigger than his older brother, who was a first-round pick in part because he was such a physical specimen. He’s bigger than K.J. Dillon, who played the same position and was a fifth-round pick, and Karl Joseph, who’s a bad man. After a very good debut season, White is merely bad news.

“I don’t really think about the NFL too much,” he said. “I want to focus on college and be the best college player I can be, and the rest will take care of itself.”

He’s nevertheless in a high-profile position on what’s been one of the Big 12’s top defenses for the past few seasons, despite regular roster replenishing. The spur safety is the most versatile and consequently most important position in the 3-3-5 defense. Doing everything it demands while blitzing, chasing down running backs in the backfield and covering shifty receivers in the slot requires a bevy of skills to go with White’s size and strength.

“It’s fun,” he said. “You don’t necessarily just want to stick to one position. Why not do a couple different things if you can? Whatever I can do to help the team, I’ll do it. I don’t have any complaints about it.”