Tight End Position Rears Head Again Versus WVU Defense In Finale

Longtime Struggle Against The Position Again On Display Versus Oklahoma

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Oklahoma used one of West Virginia’s old nemesis against it.

The Sooners hit WVU with tight end Mark Andrews on a consistent basis, targeting the defending first-team All-Big 12 selection five times with four receptions. At 6-foot-5, 254 pounds, Andrews was a nightmare match-up for a Mountaineer defensive style that has long struggled defending tight end passes down the seam and to the middle of the field.

It’s a position WVU seldom faces in its own practices, though that could be changing as the program has added Trevon Wesco and Jovani Haskins, the latter a 6-4, 245-pound Miami transfer who sat out this season to satisfy NCAA eligibility rules .

“We go against it sometimes in practice on our own,” linebacker David Long said of defending the position. “We need to play better defense. It was a little different for us, but not something that should have done that much damage.”

Andrews finished with the four catches for 61 yards and one touchdown with an average of 15.3 yards per catch. A safety blanket of sorts for quarterback Baker Mayfield, Andrews was a mid-season All-American selection who finished the regular season with 51 receptions for 848 yards with six scores. A surefire NFL pick in the coming draft, Andrews is the latest in a line of high-caliber TEs who have haunted West Virginia.

It was among the issues for a struggling defense, which failed to contain any aspect of Oklahoma’s attack. The Sooners struck for 66 yards on the game’s first play, when Kyler Murray carried off the right side to the four-yard line. A play later OU led 7-0, and it rolled from there, mixing in Andrews and Mayfield with a slew of underclassmen in running backs Rodney Anderson, Abdul Adams and Tre Sermon and receivers CeeDee Lamb and Marquis Brown.

It showed the depth and young talent of Oklahoma, and what West Virginia’s defense will be facing in coming seasons. Though coordinator Tony Gibson blamed himself afterward, the truth is WVU was facing a rebuild for a second straight season and didn’t have the level of corner ability to truly operate the defense as Gibson wanted. It was a season-long struggle, and it continued until the bitter end of the 12-game slate with a bowl to follow.

“They jumped out fast, got us on our heels and that’s that,” Long said. “Busts. We didn’t do our job. Big plays hurt us. All the Big 12 offenses run fast, high tempo. They were a great team but we did make some mistakes that hurt us. Players have to be players and make plays. We gotta get back to work.”

The Mountaineers (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) finished the regular season allowing an average of 31.6 points per game, 93rd nationally and up more than a touchdown off the 24 points per game allowed last year. The 31-plus points, in fact, are the most ever allowed in Gibson’s four seasons as coordinator; WVU gave up 24.6 ppg in 2015 and 27.6 in 2014, his initial season at the position. The marks are still better than in Keith Patterson’s last season, when the program ran a 3-4 set and allowed 33.3 points per game.

Gibson, clearly upset after the Oklahoma loss, said that his unit was poor at  every position, and that it was, essentially, as his fault though that’s not the case. There was a clear talent and depth issue between the teams, and the lack of backfield play combined with injuries, awful tackling in stretches and some unsettled line play hurt the Mountaineers for most of the year. Before one attacks Gibson for the depth issue, he’s among the best recruiters the program has as well. His postgame comments of deserving to be fired were simply passion on parade.

“Most coaches do that to protect their players,” Long said. “But at the end of the day, we were the ones playing ball and we have to make the plays on the field. We didn’t do that. Like any other loss – nobody likes losing – (the locker room) was quiet.”


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    Longtime Struggle Against The Position Again On Display Versus Oklahoma MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Oklahoma used one of West Virginia’s old nemesis against i
    [See the full post at: Tight End Position Rears Head Again Versus WVU Defense In Finale]


    I hope our coaches learned something, namely, that throwing the ball to the tight end is an essential part of an effective offense.  Most NFL teams understand this, but Dana, strangely, apparently does not.


    Dana (Spav) uses the TE as a 6th blocker almost entirely. Slipping this guy out over the middle at times will hold the LB’s in place. Even I know that.


    For the life of me, i have never understood how Dana will not commit to using TE for passing. Definitely does not make sense how he has not learned this though the years. it could create such a huge mismatch.


    WVU’s use of the tight end is going to change in the future. The Mountaineers are dedicating too many scholarships to the position for it not to be a major factor down the line. Jovanni Haskins, the transfer from Miami, will be eligible next season. I haven’t seen enough of him in a scrimmage situation to know if he can play a lick, but he’s one of the best looking athletes (6-4, 245 lbs.) I’ve seen at WVU. Haskins will be a sophomore next year and Trevon Wesco will be a senior. Then add the two high school commitments (T.J. Banks and Mike O’Laughlin) to the mix, and now WVU has a least four tight ends, and three of them (Haskins, Banks and O’Laughlin) all have the reputation as excellent pass catching tight ends as well. The use of this position certainly appears to be changing greatly at WVU. If the Mountaineers use all these scholarships on tight ends, and still use it as only an occasional blocker-only, then that is a huge mistake.


    As pointed out in the film room article, WV made good use of Wesco in the run game against OK.

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