West Virginia Continues To Build Offensive In New Offensive Coordinator’s Mold
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Jake Spavital knows exactly what he wants from West Virginia’s offense. The task is to figure out how to maximize it.
One of Spavital’s tasks in his first year involves integrating new quarterback Will Grier and with returning receivers Ka’Ruan White, David Sills, Gary Jennings and others.
“The thing that I’m most impressed with is what they (the receivers) built off of over the summer.” Spavital said. “I think these kids had a great summer. I thought that they were far more advanced with blocking and all sorts of different looks and the communication and timing with the quarterbacks and the receivers.”
One receiver that has shown Spavital a lot is Sills. At 6-3 with excellent ball skills, Sills became a main target of Grier, with the two hooking up six times for 96 yards, both game highs.
“Coach Sills is what we call him now,” Spavital said. “He does a great job. The thing you worry about with Sills is that he does too much. You gotta pull him back. He’s obviously running inside and outside receiving routes, he’s doing extra drills in the film room all night. At the end of the day you gotta tell him to get home, get some sleep, and relax a little bit.
“He’s eager, he wants to be really good, he tells everybody (what to do at times), he helps everybody out, and you like that. Dana (Holgorsen) has mentioned it a few times about being a quarterback mentality in the receiver room is pretty much what Sills brings to the table which has now elevated to coach Sills since he knows just about every position on the field.”
Spavital’s utilization of West Virginia’s deep running back group is also important regarding the success of this year’s offense. Spavital mentioned his thoughts on the development of freshman Tevin Bush coming into Fall camp.
“I love his mindset,” Spavital said. “I was talking with (running backs coach Tony) Dews and he believes that he’s one of the toughest guys in that room even though he’s little.”
“That whole room in general is pretty impressive,” Spavital said. “You got three guys with experience in (Justin) Crawford, (Kennedy) McKoy, and (Martell) Pettaway. You throw Tevin in there and then Alec Sinkfield comes in and he’s been showing size too, so that whole room right now is pretty talented and pretty competitive. I think I’m gonna have to get creative on how to find ways to give them the ball and get these guys touches.”
Spavital previously coached the quarterbacks under current head coach Dana Holgorsen for West Virginia in 2012 and came back this season to be the offensive coordinator after stints as an offensive coach at Texas A&M and the Cal, where the Golden Bears ranked No. 4 nationally in passing offense (358.8 ypg), No. 8 in first downs (335), No. 10 in total offense (518.3 ypg) and No. 22 in scoring offense, averaging 37.1 points per outing.
“It’s been a pretty easy transition based off of being here in 2011-2012,” Spavital said. “When you go off to Texas A&M and Cal you’re still running a version of what I learned from Dana. So coming back was mainly just trying to see what the changes of the terminology was and try to adapt to what type of personnel they were. It’s been good a lot smoother transitions than what most offensive coordinators will probably do in their time coming into a new program.”
Being the first week of practices, the team worked less on contact drills and more on the fundamentals of what they want to accomplish this season. Now, with all four non-contact sessions in, WVU expects to learn much more about exactly what it’s capable of over the next week.
“We got the majority of all the offense in,” Spavital said. “Next week is more of fine tuning your base installs and then you start to tweak a little bit of some things. I try to amp it up a little bit on them, try to get some good conditioning in as well because that’s the last one of pure outhitting and just trying to finalize your evaluations for your offense.”