Toughness Lacking, Auditions Open For WVU Football

Toughness Lacking, Auditions Open For WVU Football

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There are many images one can conjure up thinking of West Virginia football.

Major Harris’ run against Penn State, Pat White streaking down the field on a touchdown run, Will Grier throwing a touchdown fade to David Sills, PacMan Jones returning kicks, Marc Bulger’s precision passing.

But the real image of WVU football over the years is the image that best reflects the state and its people — toughness.

It’s Owen Schmitt, the Runaway Beer Truck. It is Brian Jozwiak, All American offensive tackle. It’s Dan Mozes, Rimington Award winner as the nation’s best center. It’s Grant Wiley on the goal line, Quincy Wilson running over Miami defenders, Bruce Irvin flinging another quarterback around, Karl Joseph separating a ball carrier from the ball and his senses.

West Virginia football is playing survival ball. The team colors may be gold and blue but the team logo should have been drawn up in black and blue.

You don’t play West Virginia football until you play physical, tough football. It is speed, yes, but what gives it its edge is fullbacks and tight ends, running backs like Amos Zereoue and Avon Cobourne who broke hearts by breaking tackles.

This is the missing ingredient in this new West Virginia team. It is feeling its way along when it should be issuing pain upon its opponents. The coaches say so, the players agree.

“The o-line is easy to pick on,” Brown said. “Our running backs, tight ends and receivers have been every bit the issue as the 0-line in the run game.”

The players agree.

West Virginia offensive linemen Josh Sills (73) and Chase Behrndt (76) pass block against Missouri
West Virginia offensive linemen Josh Sills (73) and Chase Behrndt (76) pass block against Missouri

“If you watched the film and that doesn’t spark you to get better, then you obviously shouldn’t be here,” offensive guard Josh Sills said. “It was pitiful. We need the drive and hunger every day to get better.”

And it’s on the defensive side, too, although that is less, perhaps because the ineffectiveness of the offense has been so glaring, so out of character for WVU football, that nothing really can compare to it.

Two games in and they have 64 rushing yards. SIXTY-FOUR! The Mountaineers average 1.14 yards per rushing attempt.

How important is that? Saturday’s noon opponent at Milan Puskar Stadium, N.C. State, is allowing only 24.5 yards per game on the ground after two victories.

Rest assured, changes are coming.

Brown will be holding auditions all week long as he tries to find his five best offensive linemen and anyone else on any side of the ball who will add some fire to the offense or defense.

“We’ve got to get some guys in and see what they can do,” co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Moore said. “You can’t keep the same lineup and expect different things to happen. These next two days of practice can tell us who can perform and who doesn’t.”

“I do foresee there being some changes in the lineup,” Brown said. “The best way I can tell you is if you continue to put stuff on video that’s not good enough, then the change has to be made. If there’s changes, it means those guys didn’t put enough quality on tape, or they’ve been beaten out.”

Right now the only player fully assured his job is left tackle Colton McKivitz, far and away the best offensive lineman in the first two games.

“Outside of McKivitz, I’m not real fired up about how any of them are playing,” Brown said. “[Center] Briason Mays, [right guard/tackle] John Hughes, [left guard] James Gmiter, those guys will get some opportunities up front in practice.”

But the defense has, in many ways, been just as passive, making Koenning jittery.

He tried to simplify things for them last week but, instead, seemed to confuse them and many of his defenders were hesitant, leading to five missed sacks on quarterback Kelly Bryant, 22 missed tackles and no takeaways.

“You’ve got to have more courage, and I say that in a way that means courage to make plays. You can’t just freeze up,” he said. “You’ve got to be relentless, and when I say relentless, I mean you’ve got to be tough.

“I don’t want to liken it to war, because war is life and death and this isn’t life and death, but it’s a fight. Anyone who’s ever played this game, especially in the front seven, it’s a fight. If you’re not willing to fight and go to a place — and you’re hearing me kind of getting a little bit inspired right here — but if you’re not willing to go to a place that’s a little bit nuts, a little bit crazy, then you’re not going to be able to play this game.”

So look for practice this week to be challenging and competitive because jobs are at stake and maybe the season.

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    Toughness Lacking, Auditions Open For WVU Football MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There are many images one can conjure up thinking of West Virginia football. Ma
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    I assume even the QB spot is open since Brown said everyone, except McKivitz. The QB did make some incorrect reads and poor throws, although he was under duress a lot.


    He singled out a couple of positions outside the O-line.

    Winston Wright getting a look at Bush’s spot (H??)

    Ryan getting looks at slot where Simmons is the starter – I like this thought getting the bigger more physical receiver in the slot and perhaps moving the speedier guy back outside. Right now we need possession type catches, with that maybe some big plays will come. Ryan, who hasn’t been able to get open outside could offer that big guy that can get position amd make a catch thus giving us a solid underneath option.

    Again, did they let perceptions put guys in the wrong positions off the bat? The o-line moves in camp are pushing me further toward believing the offensive side has been poorly constructed or has mismanaged the pieces they were given.

    While we all thought (hoped?) that TE would be a bigger part of this offense with nothing else working at all it’s hard to focus on getting the TE into the flow. I still think Haskins could be a weapon.



    I assume even the QB spot is open since Brown said everyone, except McKivitz. The QB did make some incorrect reads and poor throws, although he was under duress a lot.


    I’ve been kicking this around to myself this week. Would the performance so far be enough to want to give Doege a shot? I know the arguments for and against, but to me the primary thing is trying to win every game you play. Saving someone so that they are in a different class and provide a neater timeline for succession can be an exercise in futility.

    I don’t know if either Allison or Lowe are close enough to Kendall to make a viable push.


    I’m not ready to throw Kendall under the bus just yet.When you are running for your life on any given play and your confidence level in the o line is low,I can see not fully concentrating on your accuracy.However I’m not opposed to letting Doege play a few series’ to see if he can ignite a spark.It can’t hurt.

    If I’m Brown I’d be questioning the manhood of his offensive starters as reverse motivator.And maybe he has.


    Unless Doege vs Kendall is like Brady vs Jameis Winston I say save him.

    This season is going nowhere, 5-7 would be a huge positive at this point. Is that what you want to “waste” a guy on? Unless you the kid from Florida coming in next year is a phenom and going to contend for the job…


    @Mexman.Correct me if I’m wrong but…..according to the NCAA website from 2018.

    The redshirt is changing significantly.

    The NCAA Division I Council passed a proposal Wednesday that will allow players to participate in any four games in a season and still use a redshirt that year. The change, not retroactive, takes effect this coming season.

    Athletes are allowed to play four full seasons over five calendar years, using one as a redshirt. A player can now actually play 4 1/3 seasons, as the NCAA ditches what Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason called last year an “antiquated” policy: one snap in a game and you’ve spoiled the chance at redshirting that year.


    It will not affect his redshirt unless he plays 5 games.Let him in a few games and see if he is effective.If not, hold his RS ,at least he will have gained game experience.And if he is effective, well then you’ve got a decision to make.At least there are options now.


    Correct, guys can play in 4 games now.

    That can come later, continue to build around Kendall. It’s not as though his performance has been that bad, again the guy has had no chance. Doege can always share duty in the second half of the season, in fact that is clearly the best way to get him ready to compete for the job in the spring.

    Not just Doege but a bunch of young players.

    The new rule seems tailor made for schools like WVU who need to develop players moreso than the top tier schools.

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