Scheme In, Focus On Execution During Dallas Practices For WVU
FRISCO, Texas — West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital might be forgiven for wanting as much practice time as possible before the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26. With backup quarterback Chris Chugunov getting just his second start, starting running back Justin Crawford off to pursue greener pastures and offensive lineman Kyle Bosch also absent from the scene, he’s had to craft a game plan without key pieces that were present for much of the regular season. While he might crave more time before kickoff, though, none of that would be used on tweaking what he has already devised and installed at prior sessions in Morgantown.
“We got all of our work in. It was a good mock week of having everything pretty much put in before we got on the plane (to Dallas),” Spavital explained. “These next few practices are going to be just polishing up and making sure that the continuity and the timing is going to be fine with everybody else. There are still some discussions to be had, but mainly, it is just to get acclimated, get running around and make sure that we have the right mindset. The game plan, the scheme is in, it is more of a mentality of this point moving forward.”
One of Spavital’s other goals is to avoid confusion by overloading the offense with too many looks or plays. Like his counterpart on defense, Tony Gibson, Spavital will be more likely to pare things down a bit over the last few days prior to the game. He’d prefer better execution on fewer plays, but also knows that he has to prepare the offense for the different defensive fronts they will see from Utah.
“We are going to be throwing more looks at the guys because they are a multiple front,” he said of the remaining practice and film sessions before the Dec. 26 kickoff. “[Utah] will be moving in and out of three down fronts to bear [fronts] to four down fronts to over-unders, all sorts of things. There will be some good conversations with some of these plays just to make sure we are all on the same page and that we are going to execute these plays in a certain look.”
Getting backups like Chugunov, Kennedy McKoy, Martell Pettaway and others ready for their roles is only half the battle. Spavital knows that anticipation for the game has registered just slightly higher than that for a root canal, so he has also been keeping on eye on the motivation of the team. On a blustery, cold day in the Metroplex, the Mountaineers got to practice indoors at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility at The Star, and it had an effect on the squad.
“They are actually pretty excited,” said Spavital of a time when bowl preparation can start to drag. “Once they pulled up to this facility (the Dallas Cowboys practice compound at The Star) they got a little more energy to practice, which I am fired up for them having a little more excitement playing in a place like this.”