MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) Now that we’ve got spring training and the national football league out of the way, it’s time to watch the West Virginias football team as it heads into the summer.
Today we start with the offense and the five most worrying areas that came out of the past season, and see if it has improved and, if so, how.
A year ago, WVU finished in 82nd place out of 127 teams in the country in points scored, averaging just 26.7 points per game, placing 8th in the Big 12.
The main villain here was the run game, which averaged just 135.1 yards per game, 92nd in the nation despite a 1,000-yard rusher in Leddie Brown.
And while statistically, WVU’s passing attack wasn’t bad, averaging 277.5 yards per game, who threw 28th in the country and third in the Big 12, with a completion rate of 63.1, pitching 50th in the NCAA they only had 16 touchdown passes, 30 less than Florida, which led the nation.
Let us not doubt that the violation and its improvement was a prime objective of the spring.
No. 1 It seemed strange, for the past two years, that WVU had a weakness up front, especially when you looked at the NFL rosters late last year and found that of the 11 mountaineers on the NFL rosters, five were offensive linemen.
Neal Brown wanted to change that and seems to have not only remade the line of attack but also put it together to last for a while.
Why should they be better this year?
For starters, they revolve around their freshman All-American Zach Frazier, a true sophomore who spent most of his time as a security guard last year, a position he hadn’t played before.
Frazier in the center gives them the potential to have their best center since Dan Moses unanimously won the Rimington Award as the nation’s highest center in 2006, 15 years ago.
That kid, he’s a football guru, said offensive bus Matt Moore. He likes it. He likes to dissect plays. He and his dad, his dad, played soccer in Fairmont State and love soccer, that’s their deal together. They don’t play golf or fish. They sit around looking at old WVU games and talk about who is the middle linebacker and who is the three-tech guy and who they need to double the team.
He had to move to guard last year because James Gmiter, another star on hold, had to sit with Covid-19 complications. Gmiter is at full strength and is eager to prove himself.
What’s more, WVU has picked up a significant and multi-faceted transfer from Virginia Tech in state-born Doug Nester who will play with the right tackle or the right guard, but comes with a reputation for toughness and with starting experience.
Right now, I feel like we can function with our two deeply like we once functioned with a second group out there, Moore said. We didn’t allow walks through and didn’t allow bags killing plays. Allowed our skilled boys to make plays.
Put those guys in with returning starter Michael Yates in the only tackle and with Jordan White or John Hughes you have a tough, athletic, young functional front line that needs to open holes for Leddie Brown and give quarterback Jarret Doege time to get into the pocket. operate at quarterback.
No. 2 The quarterback’s play needs to get better, and it probably will by addressing what’s going on around him … he’s almost certainly Doege.
It starts with that improved line of defense, but there’s a receiving squad that dropped a lot of passes last year. Lost passes prevent the offense from occurring in important situations or setting up important situations.
Again, it was a young host corps now being experienced and this spring it seemed to be dividing into roles.
Perhaps the key is the true veteran of the group, Bryce Ford-Wheaton. He has all the physical tools that the great receivers have, but he hasn’t really believed in himself. That’s what they’ve been working on this spring, bringing out the best in him by thinking positively and creating a leadership role for him.
I’m just thinking about consistency, his confidence, head coach Neal Brown said over the spring. He had a great winter. He is extremely talented, intelligent, he knows our transgression inside out and I think it’s time. I think he is ready to take the next step and I think he could be one of the better receivers in our league.
When he gets up, he’ll be Sam James and Sam Brown and Sean Ryan and Winston Wright Jr. take.
And, thinking of improving the production of explosive plays, WVU brought in a freshman from across the border in Maryland, Kaden Prather. This is a big game that happens every time he’s on the field, something that took him little time to prove, as his first catch as a mountaineer came in the spring game and was a 52-meter completion.
With Wright, Ford-Wheaton and Prather, WVU has the potential to bring the big passing game back to attack.
number 3 Of course, explosive plays go back to the quarterback and Coach Neal Brown has spent a lot of time on this with Doege, who must clear the memory of a dismal performance against Army in which he had to be relieved to get the WVU attack going.
Doeges assets were intelligence and accuracy at short strides, but now they expect better protection, improved receiving skills, more receivers as the tight ends get into the mix and Leddie Brown from the backfield becomes an option, all of which should expand what Doege can do To do..
What’s more, Brown has the option to change the attack this year, and he might try and find spots in every game to give Garrett Greene, his big-arm mobile quarterback, a run or two to change the look and the defense to give something to worry about.
number 4 Neal Brown has come to believe it’s vital that the tight ends play a big part in the offense, perhaps going so far as to go with what he calls 12 staff and play two tight ends with two wide receivers, which is the running game gives a boost. block better and give the passing game a different look with the tight end that puts pressure on the guards and linebackers, especially at the goal line and in short range situations.
He is so serious about this that he has aggressively recruited tight ends and increased the numbers.
The point was driven to him last season when Iowa State hammered WVU, sometimes doing so with three tight ends, creating terrible match-up situations for the defense.
Iowa State has clearly had a lot of success using multiple tight ends, operating largely from the set of 12 staff, Brown said this spring. We feel like running the ball consistently, which I think is important when you look at champion teams across the board, they can stop the run and they can turn the football. To do that, you need to have some tight goals, and this is the first time from a roster standpoint we’ve had multiple guys.
OLaughlin is the key figure this year, his third at the end after joining WVU as a 210-pound high school recipient.
number 5 WVU didn’t let Leddie Brown tackle this spring as they know he is capable of breaking tackles and there is a long, tough season ahead of him.
But what they did do is they worked with him on a daily basis to run pass routes out of the backfield and catch the ball, believing that not only can he help his NFL chances by improving himself in those areas, but he can also add a strong new dimension. to the offense by getting him out on linebackers and protections by air.
If I catch the ball more I’ll get the attention of the NFL scouts because that’s what they’re looking for now that backs can run, catch, block … the full package. That’s what I’m trying to show them I can do, Brown said.
A year ago, he caught 31 passes, but averaged less than 7 yards per catch. Brown would like to see that number increase and for that he needs to run routes better, open himself up with room to operate.
I think it’s safe to say that Leddie is a special player, said offensive coordinator Gerad Parker. We have to find ways to get the ball to him, both conventionally and then in different ways, like letting him be a pass catcher sometimes.