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Friday Feedback

Friday, October 31, 2014

Welcome to the Friday Feedback, safe haven for the 5%ers. Things got a little weird against Baylor two weeks ago and Tony Gibson was drawing and dialing up things I’d never before seen. On one really Good play, the “5″ in the 3-3-5 were all lined up on a string 10 or so yards off the line of scrimmage and Bryce Petty was perplexed and so was I, and without a good explanation I called it Cover Pentagon, and I guess it took.

Well, last week things were weird again in a Good way against Oklahoma State and the shell game Gibson was playing. I sort of thought CP was a one day, throwaway defense that could maybe work against Baylor when it ran its empty sets and there wasn’t a concern about a running back gobbling up yards and slashing through caverns in a soft box.

But then it happened again in Stillwater against that unbalanced set.

So what gives?

“We threw a couple different things at them in the second half last week that helped us coverage-wise,” Gibson said. “They were just counting numbers in the box — how many linebackers, where are the defensive backs, is it a one-high shell or a two-high shell — and making run/pass checks at the line of scrimmage. So we went five across the top and put everyone at the same depth and made him guess what we were going to spin to.

Well then, how’s that for a spooky Halloween costume?

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, think of others.

Sammy said: 

When does Quinton Spain get his shot at returning punts?

At the current rate, Wednesday afternoon. Also: I’ve heard it’ll be Vernon “Run at the Bouncing Ball” Davis and #FreeJaylon Myers Saturday. 


You’ll Never Talk Alone: S3E9

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Same as it ever was as the weekly WVU football chat is back again at 11 a.m. The chat is open now if you’d like to get your questions in early. See you in soon.

Live Blog You’ll Never Talk Alone: S3E9

Wednesday Walkthrough: TCU

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Also …


The Mega Powers must happen

Wednesday, October 29, 2014



Lots of similarities there, right?

They play different sports, but Juwan Staten and Kevin White are alike in two very significant ways.

Juwan Staten was Kevin White on the basketball floor before Kevin White was Kevin White on the football field. Staten figured out, or more likely remembered, he was a very good player who was just better than the guy across from him. He found a physical attribute or two and applied it and them over and over and he could not be stopped. Defenses were geared to guard him.

And Staten was not always this Staten.

His 2012-13 season was not up to his standards, and he dedicated everything that happened after that season ended and before the following season began to making sure he wrote an entirely different chapter when the time came to write the next chapter.

Sounds just like White, right? If you have a hard time grasping White’s success this season, how he made a statenian jump from one year to the next, understand he has no idea how it happened either because he simply cannot explain what happened last season.

“It’s been motivation all year how I played last year,” White said. “I take everything really personal because last year, I don’t know. I don’t know what I was doing. But I came out to prove a point I’m a different player with a different mindset.”

Who might know what he was doing? Who could understand and articulate the struggle that precedes success? I quizzed Staten yesterday.


Dana Holgorsen: TCU week

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The answer to Dana’s good omen/bad omen question? Good omen!


The Good and the Bad of WVU v. Oklahoma State

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

towels copy

So much talk about depth and so much evidence to suggest WVU has it and is benefiting from it, be it the defensive exploits down two cornerbacks against Baylor or the list of running backs who did something in the absence of the starter to contribute to Saturday’s victory. There remain some question about backups, namely at receiver, but when Mario Alford and Kevin White do what they do, you sort of accept that there’s going to be a dropoff when one or both is out, if even for a few plays.

But from the start of the season to now, hasn’t quarterback had our attention most? Who’s the backup? Why is the freshman returning punts? Can Clint Trickett stay healthy? Will the Mountaineers use William Crest in a special package? Is Paul Millard redshiring? Can I get a damn camera on Millard at all times?

We know now that Crest is done for the season because his shoulder is “all jacked up,” and WVU will pursue a medical redshirt. For the first time all season, Crest was not with the team Saturday because redshirts don’t travel. But his absence was nevertheless significant because, honestly, WVU’s deceptive towel game has been on point all season. Crest is Hall to Skyler Howard’s Nash, and now we know that Logan Moore is the third Outsider.

I, for one, fell better in the presence of that knowledge.

Such depth.

How did we get here? Let’s find out by taking a look at the Good and the Bad of WVU v. Oklahoma State.

Good: Fun
I didn’t know where to begin there was so much to get into and so much to enjoy about that game, no matter where we sat and what hat we wore. I’m working and you’re rooting and that difference will sort things out into different piles. The common denominator, I think, is we have some fun following this team. Rushel Shell didn’t play Saturday and you and I both nodded approvingly, though again for different reasons, at what Wendell Smallwood, Dreamius Smith, Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison did in his place. Afterward, someone asked Smallwood what sort of help Shell provided on the sideline, as though Shell was a veteran and Smallwood a rookie, but the point was to get a quote along the lines of, “Yeah, he helped me figure out a few things about the gaps and the blocking and how I could get downhill faster.” What Smallwood said was so much better: “He made sure I was hydrated.” The interrogator skipped past that and went to the next question on the script and Dave Hickman waited and said, “He made sure you were hydrated?” Smallwood laughed. “He had his own personal water bottle and was walking around the sideline with it for guys.” Teamwork!



Monday, October 27, 2014

The inimitable realbbbb asked me to share this with you.


But let’s spend a moment acknowledging and attempting to explain the accomplishment that is bowl eligibility. If you had to pick out just one factor to explain 6-2/4-1, what would it be?

Texts From Oklahoma State Game Day

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tremendous job, folks. Again. The wit, the foreshadowing, the emotions and the observations are as sharp as ever. Saturday gave you another grab-the-glue game and you stuck the landing. It wasn’t decided at the gun, but it was closer than 34-10 suggests and there was an impending sense of Fall for a large portion of what follows. (By the way … six really fun games this season, no?)

There’s a lot to discuss this week from this game, which is sort of a shame because this Saturday’s occasion looms. But we’re here, so let’s indulge for a moment. That looked like a game WVU would win going away and then a game WVU would lose because it lost its offense and then a game WVU would win because of the running game and the defense.


I think we’ve been made to think this sort of effort was in the cards. Dana Holgorsen has touted his running game for how long? I’ve been talking you into a Big 12 defense for how long? I’m not sure I ever believed all or any of that wold come together at once and on purpose because I just sort of figured WVU had to and knew how to throw the ball and outscore or overwhelm teams to win.

But Holgorsen and the rest of the gang pulled the cord in Stillwater and managed a soft landing instead of a crash, and that’s important. Could WVU have kept throwing the ball short and taking shots deep and subjecting Clint Trickett to the pass rush, hurried throws and bad decisions and still won the game? On the road, I would trend toward no, because momentum so so fickle.

But let’s say maybe because’s Oklahoma State’s offense is really out of sorts now and because WVU has Josh Lambert.

You don’t want to dance with maybe. Maybe may look good, but maybe’s liable to go home with someone else and you’ve wasted an entire day for a sad trip home. I’ll stop this analogy here before I say something stupid and have to sign off Twitter forever, but you get the point. There was a safe option available and WVU exercised it. I don’t know how you can’t be OK with that.

But in the moment, well, it was hard to see and hard to accept until it started to make a difference and then make sense, as I’m about to show you. While you’re wishing on that falling star, I’m in a foreign car sending texts with the doors ajar. My edits are in [brackets].

(Wait: Speaking of GameDay…)

It amazes me how every WVU student parties and burns [this] and whatnot, then gets older and CANT BELIEVE that students are partying and burning [this].

Why are we dressed like LSU? WTF?

ESPN listed Terrell Chestnut as an impact player. I know he’s not playing bc of the WVU Sports Blog with Mike Casazza.

Don’t like the WVU uniform combination. Love it.

Get it, Buie! Love this running back squad!


hahaa…yes…please…play that weak [pass] coverage on GAM all damn day, OSU. I dare you.

I actually feel sorry for that poor little freshman if he has to cover GAM all day. Would be willing to spot them points.

WVU’s first defensive and offensive possessions in this game were both very easy. I’m officially worried.


WVU v. Oklahoma State: What’s yours is mine

Saturday, October 25, 2014

This is a bit dated, but I still find it interesting because even now it seems to run counter to what we think is the common way of doing business these days.

Mike Gundy has had a handful of offensive coordinators the past few years who haven’t stayed long because they’ve been successful and poached for head coaching jobs. Larry Fedora went to Southern Miss, Dana Holgorsen went to WVU and Todd Monken went to Southern Miss two years after Fedora went to North Carolina.

The Monken-Fedora thing is kind of interesting for the the purpose of this exercise. Fedora was the Golden Eagles coach from 2008-11 and his replacement, Ellis Johnson, was a disaster in 2012 and didn’t get a second season. Southern Miss sort of remembered how much fun Fedora was and hired Monken, trusting many of the veteran offensive players could quickly right themselves when Monken re-introduced Fedora’s stylings. (Johnson was 0-12 and Monken was 1-11 last season, so…)

Gundy gave the offense to Gunter Brewer and co-coordinator Trooper Taylor (!) in 2008 and then Brewer in 2009 when Taylor went to Auburn. Things weren’t going well and Gundy wanted to modernize his offense. He knew about what was happening at Houstson — it was impossible to ignore it — and called upon Holgorsen.

The 2010 season was wildly successful, of course, and Oliver Luck was no less naive than Gundy and hired Holgorsen to be WVU’s coach. Gundy then hired Monken from the NFL.  He stayed two years. Gundy then hired Mike Yurcich from Shippensburg University. This is his second season.

That’s odd, right? A line of renowned coordinators and then two outliers?

But the Cowboys kept on ticking, even with the changing of the guard at the top of the offense. The success was the same because the offense was the same, even as the coordinators kept changing.

And going back to the top, that grabbed my attention.

We have approximately 35, 45 players or so that have played for our offense each year, each season, and when we’ve lost a coordinator to become a head coach, I felt like it was an advantage to continue to run the offense and keep our terminology.  So we would bring in one new coach or two new coaches, and they would learn our system instead of 35 or 40 players trying to learn a new terminology or a new system from the outside.

For that reason, we’ve had success.  So we don’t see any reason to change.  Our players have also been recruited there, and we told them that this was the offense we were going to run.  We would be up tempo.  We would throw the ball.  We’d run play action.  We’d run the football.  We want to be consistent in our recruiting. 

So the players that are currently on our team will continue to recruit.  They’ve always been the best for us, and I know that’s somewhat broad, but those are reasons for staying with the system.  It’s difficult to bring a young man in that’s made a commitment to our program for certain reasons, and then a couple years later things change.  It can certainly affect him.  So we try to stay as consistent as possible in that area. 

Think about that for a second. Think about how much ink we gave Lane Kiffin before the opener. Think about how many times a guy is hired to run an offense or a defense because of his particular scheme. Gundy didn’t and doesn’t hire offensive coordinators for what they do. He hires them to continue doing what he does, and the logic is perfectly acceptable. The exception to this practice is also the pioneer and likely drinking a can of Red Bull right now.

Full disclosure: I knew the answer to that question. Sometimes you need an answer to a question. And the answer was this: What you’ll see on offense today is what Dana Holgorsen delivered to the Big 12 in 2010. The Cowboys acquired it in 2010 and have kept it since. WVU coveted it and secured it a year later.

Who will pay today?


If they’re even, they’re leavin’

Friday, October 24, 2014

I’m off to Oklahoma City today for tomorrow’s game in Stillwater, where it’s going to he hot. I feel like I let you down by not doing another weather-on-the-road feature, but I do have some intel and something up my sleeve for Monday. It’s actually pretty clever, but useless to use if the road team doesn’t prosper on the road.

Anyhow, Mr. Chestnut will not be in attendance, and WVU will probably travel with junior college transfer Keishawn Richardson for the first time. He hasn’t played all season, but such is the situation at cornerback. Daryl Worley has given indications he’s good to go, which is good news for the secondary. (No legitimate word on Rushel Shell. I’ve heard yay and nay, which means “Ask me Saturday.”)

Get ready for something of an oddity at Boone Pickens Stadium, though. College football has evolved into spread sets, short throws, quick releases and athletes in space. WVU and Oklahoma State do that, but both throw it deep like few others in the game today.

“We worked on throwing the ball vertically more than I ever have in my life because of what we believe is a great running back room and an extremely physical offensive line,” Dawson said. “We figure that teams are going to have to man up at some point to stop the run, so we have to be able to throw it vertical.

“And we’ve worked on it. That was our biggest emphasis in the offseason, and obviously we’re way better throwing and catching it.”

It remains a part of WVU’s practices during the season. Most days start with a drill where cornerbacks are set at different depths and with varying leverage and the quarterback and receiver are in charge of completing a deep pass.

“We haven’t worked on a lot of the back-shoulder stuff because our guys are getting by them,” Trickett said. “If they’re even, they’re leaving, and I have to go for the home run shot. If guys are winning on the edge, I’ve got to put it out there. It’s always about letting them make a play, don’t throw it out of bounds, don’t throw it short. I’ve always got to give them a chance to make a play.”

Daxx Garman’s deep throw is a pretty one, and I’m guessing it gets a lot of P.T. Saturday. I’m not sure he’ll be throwing them to Jhajuan Seales, but there are many options available to the team’s second QB this season. Fortunately for WVU, Baylor was “more over-the-top than anybody I’d ever broken down,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. That blitz-or-bust strategy might be employed again, though with more disguise and variation, because 1) it worked and 2) OSU’s line is sieve.

Topic today: Best deep ball. I ride with Jeff Blake.