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August 16, 2019 at 8:43 am #95548
Don’t discount the importance of Chase Behrndt to this year’s offensive line. Yes, he was moved from center to guard for a couple of practices, and that move could stick, but even if he is not in the starting lineup he has to be a solid backup for WVU to be good this year. He could be a swing guy between center and guard, and if he’s better at the latter, that’s fine too. I just hope that he doesn’t get ignored or discounted for the entire season because he’s had a tough few days.
That said, the impact of John Hughes is huge. He caught my eye early – think I mentioned him in another post — and he’s going to play a lot even if he doesn’t start. If Mike Brown is improving to the level that the coaches say, the line could be good enough to win with. Depth will be a concern all year, so continuing to work with the backups is really critical.
Finally, on the line moves, was talking to Colton McKivitz about that and he said it does affect, a little, the communication between players as they get used to someone different next to them. I don’t mean to overstate it, but there is more to offensive line adjustments than just moving bodies around. The good think is that Josh Sills is a veteran, so if this lineup holds you have three vets at the tackles and center bracketing the less experienced guys at guard. Maybe that’s a little better in the long run?
I was really hoping Dreshun Miller could come in and immediately help at corner, but he hasn’t practiced. He was riding the stationary bike at practice, and watching drills, but he is not participating. That leaves WVU really thin, with Bailey and Washington the starters in front of freshmen Fortune and Mayo. That could also impact WVU’s ability to add an extra DB in some situations, even though it already has five on the field with the free and cat safeties and the spear.
Washington has looked very good in the portions of practice we have seen. Rally attacking the ball well.
As Neal Brown noted, accuracy in the short and quick passing game has been spotty. Those passes need to be right on target to allow the receivers (and backs) to make moves immediately and in stride rather than having to adjust to the ball. It hasn’t been terrible, but there are enough that are just a little off to take away some potential gains.
Josh Growden jumping right in to the holding job has both positives and negatives. He’s available to work with the kickers way more than the QBs do, but he’s also going to have just about three weeks of work with them before the first game. Is that enough? On the plus side, he was a holder for three years at LSU, so game pressure shouldn’t be an issue. It does, though, remove the chance of a surprise fake when the QB is back there.
Standing behind the defense at an 11-on-11 session, I was struck by how small it looked. With all the hybrid safeties on the field, that’s sort of a given, but it was just something that hit my eye. That does not mean that those guys can’t play, and I don’t mean to leave that impression. JoVanni Stewart is one example of a smaller guy that plays big, and he’s now in a position at spear that really suits him. Some of the other safeties and backers are varying sizes, but WVU has to have guys like Long, Mahone, Abbott, Chandler, Lindsay, Martin play well to offset that lack of size and height. Of course, toughness in playing the game and getting off or avoiding blocks doesn’t have to be dependent on raw size.
If the official 2019 motto is “Trust the Climb”, then the unofficial one is “Consistency”. Maybe the coaches have agreed to make it a talking point, but in watching practice you can see where that is a goal for the team. There are really good plays and reps, but a few more clunkers than what you would hope for.
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