Tight Ends, Running Backs Add More To Potent WVU Offense
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A week ago, as the Texas game was approaching, this tiny corner of the universe took note of what may be the most dynamic change in West Virginia football since Dana Holgorsen came on the scene.
And that was the way Holgorsen had changed his own approach to football and learned you can loosen up a defense by playing a tight end.
The Texas game advance that appeared in these pages was focused on Trevon Wesco, the 270-pound man of steel with the footwork of a ballerina and how he has affected the team and would stamp his brand of physicality on the Texas game.
“This is not a week for the weak of heart or the weak of mind or, maybe most important, the physically weak,” we wrote.
“This is a game for the strong.
“This is a game for Trevon Wesco.”
And it was, for he was named WVU’s offensive champion of the week.
But, in the process, the role of the tight end in the offense expanded far beyond where it even was, for Wesco was joined on the demolition crew that beat Texas by his brother tight end, Jovani Haskins, a mere 240 pounds of blocker/receiver.
The result was that in the game, Haskins caught four passes and Wesco caught three, which meant that two of them had grabbed off a full quarter of Will Grier’s 28 completions, gaining 60 yards.
Put another way, they caught one more pass than David Sills.
“It makes us more multiple, and it makes us harder to defend,” Holgorsen said of the role his two tight ends are now playing on the offense with the ability to block and catch passes.
“I don’t care which of our five skill guys that are on the field at any one time, any of them can get the ball,” he continued. “Whether it’s a tight end, Jovani does a little bit more flex-out stuff, he’s still technically a tight end. He’s able to be in the box and line up as a true tight end if we need him to.”
The thing is the defense has to find a way to cover all of the receivers.
“It makes us harder to defend when all those guys can touch the ball. They have to cover all of them, and Jovani is just now starting to come into his own,” Holgorsen said. “He’s still young, obviously he redshirted as hadn’t played college football yet. He’s a big target that has really good hand-eye coordination and is improving with his blocking abilities. So, the better they get, the more we’ll use them.”
Grier understands that Haskins or Wesco are easy to find because of their size, often in a mismatch with a smaller player … unless the nose guard happens to be covering them.
More important, Grier has developed confidence in the catching ability of either.
Haskins is coming across more as a receiver at this point because he hasn’t fully filled out or learned all the blocking techniques, but that will come.
“He’s a big target,” is the way offensive coordinator Spavital puts it when he speaks of Haskins. He causes a lot of matchup problems, and his catch radius is very comforting for Will to throw to. You put him on these underneath routes, intermediate routes where he doesn’t have to be as accurate with the ball.
“Jovani, and even Wesco, when they catch the ball, those guys just naturally fall forward for a few more yards. I thought we were really efficient on hitting these quick, hook routes on the perimeter, where he was catching, getting up field and getting about 10 yards every time we did that.”
The last thing any defensive coordinator wants to deal with is WVU’s already potent offense expanding at this time of year, yet that is just what’s happening.
Not only with the tight ends, but the running backs.
You never seem to know where it’s coming from … Kennedy McKoy off the edge, Martell Pettaway or Leddie Brown up the middle, Alec Sinkfield or Tevin Bush on a play designed to break a long gainer such the 79-yard breakaway Bush had.
In the Texas game it was McKoy and Pettaway who took over.
“This was the first game we actually had two guys that got into a rhythm, and you didn’t really want to ruin that,” Spavital said of why the majority of the carries fell to those two. “You ended up getting those guys into a rhythm, and I thought they were rushing the ball effectively.
“ It was a one-two punch right there. You wanted to get Sink into the game at times, but we pulled off of that based off the flow of the game. I thought that (junior running back Pettaway and Kennedy did a really good job.”