Inside Looks: WVU Running Back Drills

West Virginia’s Backs In Footwork, Pass Pattern Sessions

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With a stockpile of backs that run the gamut from quick and shifty to big and bruising, West Virginia has the long desired mix in its backfield for the coming season.

Position coach Tony Dews, in his first season after a return to the program, has already piled on the early praise for the backs, and the varied skill set that will allow the Mountaineers to find a near perfect personnel fit pending situation.

From the big-play ability of Justin Crawford and Kennedy McKoy through the more grind-it-out style of Martell Pettaway and the burst and explosion of Tevin Bush, WVU’s array of body types and styles can’t be overstated.


There’s little question the added flexibility was a key in the continued evolution of the Mountaineer run game, which went from a secondary aspect to the primary threat last season. Now, even with the addition of quarterback Will Grier, West Virginia figures to ride the run game and maintain the balance strived for as head coach Dana Holgorsen moved away from the more pure passing attack.

Key in on Dews, below, and the backs as the go through a footwork drill that focuses on quickness, body control, change of direction and more. Dews offers instruction and criticism, and dwells upon the focus on proper execution.


The backs then moved to a balance and bounce drill where they pressed the line of scrimmage for a hole, then bounced the play outside before immediately cutting to get vertical and avoid a defender bearing down from the outside. It’s an excellent drill during the helmets-only practices, and it works a series of skills in one session.


And finally, West Virginia works the backfield in passing drills and route running. The idea is to press as though the back is going to challenge at a greater depth, then quickly turn and settle to create a target for the quarterback. It’s a basic rep, but attention to detail is imperative, as noted by Dews after a mental mistake.