Moore Says WVU’s Offensive Line Still Has A Lot Of Work To Do
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Matt Moore has to view both the big picture and also the smallest detail.
As West Virginia offensive coordinator, Moore oversees the entire offensive attack. And as WVU’s offensive line coach, he’s also sharply focused on that position group.
With so much change within the Mountaineer football program, including new coaches, new schemes and a number of new players, Moore says his offensive line is still very much a work in progress.
“Our performance Saturday wasn’t what I wanted it to be,” noted Moore in regards to WVU’s first officiated scrimmage of the spring. “We had been doing better than that in practice.
“We made some mistakes that we have to clear up,” he added. “We have to continue to work on that. We have to get our technique better, our pad level better, just basic fundamental stuff. Both our tackles (Colton McKivitz and Kelby Wickline) played pretty good, but inside, we just didn’t do what we needed to do. It’s not progressing like I want it to right now.”
The interior of West Virginia’s offensive line was affected by the absence of veteran guard Josh Sills, who suffered a knee injury last week and missed Saturday’s scrimmage.
Sills should be able to return to practice in a week or two, but he leaves a big hole at right guard when he’s not available.
Junior Mike Brown, who played in just four games last year after transferring to WVU from junior college, and redshirt freshman Briason Mays worked with the first unit on Saturday at the two guard spots, while Chase Behrndt continues to hold down the center position. A guard in the past, Behrndt is still adjusting to playing a new position.
“Chase has never played center before, and there is a lot of stuff he has to recognize. He has to make calls,” explained Moore. “Also our defense isn’t the easiest to run against. They move a lot. That’s fine. It will help us in the long run, though the growing pains can be tough.”
McKivitz, a senior who has moved from right tackle to left tackle this spring, and Sills, a junior who has settled in at right guard, are by far the most experienced linemen in Moore’s group. A two-time All-Big 12 honorable mention selection, the 6-foot-7, 312-pound McKivitz has started 35 games in his three seasons of varsity experience. The 6-foot-6, 328-pound Sills, who was a second-team all-Big 12 honoree last season, has started 22 games in his college career. After that, though, the experience up front starts to get thin. Wickline, Berhndt and Brown all have seen game action, but not nearly to the extent of McKivitz and Sills. And then beyond that, there is practically no game experience among the returning offensive linemen. Add in a new coaching staff, new terminology and a new scheme, and the steep learning curve is not unexpected.
Still, that doesn’t mean Moore is going to forgive the mistakes.
“You can’t allow run-thoughs and you can’t allow negative plays,” said the former Troy offensive line coach who is a native of Canton, Ga. “Like I told my group the other day, our running backs are good enough to get yards if we just do our job.
“A lot of (the mistakes) aren’t necessarily assignments,” he stated. “They know who to go to, but their technique of getting there hasn’t been good. As much as our defense moves, if you cross your feet or step too far, then you’re in trouble. Those are the things they have to get used to seeing. It’s a lot different than what they’ve seen in the past. It’s not a physical thing. Some of the younger guys may not be as strong as we need them to be, but our older guys are fine. It’s more of a technique issue, and that’s something I have to fix.”