Film Room: WVU – Virginia Tech

Film Room: WVU – Virginia Tech


We break down the video from the West Virginia – Virginia Tech game, but in deference to our old school roots, it’s in a small, dank, concrete room with a flickering reel-to-reel film projector. Millenials can Google that reference.

ABC started off the game broadcast with discussion of West Virginia QB Will Grier. Unfortunately, the crew showed a shot of WVU linebacker Brendan Ferns all the while.  Hint to ABC: quarterbacks don’t wear gloves.  That, of course, set the stage for a night of banality and missed identifications by the broadcast team.

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WVU had a number of different formations in its four wide receiver sets. In addition to the stacked twins formation we saw last year, WVU also unveiled a stair-stepped alignment of three receivers on one side, with each receiver one step back and one step in from the next. The Mountaineers ran a couple of typical bunch release routes from this, but also showed a fake wide receiver screen, with quarterback Will Grier quickly hitting the inside receiver on a quick hot route. Twice this went to Gary Jennings, and that could be a setup for a further fake and a deep route later in the year.

The use of crossing routes, both right off the line of scrimmage and further downfield, was also a highlight of the game. Both of David Sills’ TD grabs came on those quick crosses, even in the face of a Tech defense that emphasized taking away the middle of the field.

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Regarding that last sentence, Tech’s tactic of crowding the middle of the field dictated WVU’s passing attack to the perimeter. Both Jake Sapvital and Dana Holgorsen were in agreement on this assessment of the Holies’ intentions, and with the methods of West Virginia’s offense. Given the Mountaineers’ 6.3 yards per carry average, there was some grumbling about the 52 passes thrown, but when the offense totals almost 600 yards, it’s tough to argue that mistakes were made in playcalling.

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Three defensive linemen made up West Virginia’s punt protection wall. Jon Lewis, Ezekiel Rose and Jaleel Fields provided a big obstacle in front of punter Billy Kinney. Virginia Tech didn’t test that much, and only really came after one punt on a block attempt. Rose is also on the kickoff return team, which speaks to his mobility and speed.

WVU’s full punt team consisted of Kinney, Lewis, Rose, Fields, Jovanni Stewart, Shane Commodore, Ferns, Hodari Christian, Nick Meadows, Mike Daniels and Derrek Pitts, who was the lone bullet in the formation. Conscious of Tech’s kick-blocking prowess, WVU kept an extra blocker in tight, but it didn’t hurt punt coverage on the kicks that did cover normal distance. The Mountaineers gave up just one return for five yards, and both Lewis and Rose were very good at getting downfield to help the seven on the line of scrimmage

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Hakeem Bailey and Elijah Battle started at corner, with Daniels coming on after Bailey had a rough stretch. Later, Bailey relieved Battle after a similar period.  Bailey played both corners on the evening. Senior transfer Corey Winfield played on the kickoff return team, but did not appear on a snap from scrimmage. Expectations are that he will play in that capacity this week against East Carolina, and that’s none too soon. There’s no way West Virginia can go through the seaosn playing just three corners.

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Mountaineer defensive coordinator Tony Gibson showed a couple of different passing down packages, with linebackers Al-Rasheed Benton and Dylan Tonkery coming out in favor of Quondarius Qualls and Jovanni Stewart. Qualls had a half-sack in a blitzing role. At times, Rose and Lewis came in as designated pass rushers.

Also worth noting: WVU gave up touchdowns on just 50% of its defensive red zone series last year — a ridiculously good performance. There’s no way the Mountaineers could equal that this season, right? Well, it did just that. Tech had the ball six times in the red zone, but scored only three touchdowns.

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One of the surprises of the evening was the use of Lamonte McDougle as the second team (and only backup) at nose. McDougle snared that spot about three weeks ago in practice according to Gibson, and never let it go. He got good penetration a couple of times and stood his ground well, only getting knocked off his feet once. He had a pair of tackles, including one for a yard loss. Now WVU needs to get either Fields or Jalen Harvey into the mix for a three-man rotation, which should really help freshness, and hopefully production.

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Linebacker Xavier Preston had the finest game of his career. He showed up all over the field, pursuing well and pressuring the quarterback. He was also one of the surest tacklers on a night when WVU missed a few. He finished with five stops, a pass breakup and a QB hit, and was a stalwart on a night when the Mountaineers really needed it, given the absence of the injured David Long.

Home forums Film Room: WVU – Virginia Tech

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  • #22142
    Kevin Kinder
    Kevin Kinder

    Film Room: WVU – Virginia Tech We break down the video from the West Virginia – Virginia Tech game, but in deference to our old school roots, it’s in
    [See the full post at: Film Room: WVU – Virginia Tech]

    #22212
    Greg Hunter
    Greg Hunter

    The mis-ID of Will Grier by the TV in the pregame is comical. Reminds me of the 1982 WVU-Oklahoma game, when a young ESPN network spent the entire broadcast showing then d-coordinator Dennis Brown and IDing him as Don Nehlen.

    #22246
    Matt Keller
    Matt Keller

     

    Ha!

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