Unknowns Behind Him, WVU OC Spavital Looks For Improvement As Season Progresses
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital may have summed up the feelings of coaches everywhere about openers when he noted “There were a lot of unknowns going into the game.” Although he was speaking specifically in response to a question about the Mountaineer offensive line, that served as an excellent summation for most teams heading into Game One. But while he wasn’t happy that WVU came out on the short end, he did find several things upon which the team can hang its hat for the rest of the year.
“I knew they were going to fight. That’s the culture of this University,” he said of WVU and its ability to rally more than once in the opener. It is reaffirming when they say they are playing hard. [We heard] a lot of comments that ‘it’s not the outcome you wanted but that there is a lot to build off of because the kids fought’.”
Two of the specific places Spavital saw that on offense was from his quarterback and on the offensive line.
“Collectively I thought they did a great job,” he said of the group up front. “Going into the game I thought we were going to have to move the pocket, but throughout the course of the game I though protection was great. When Grant [Lingafelter] went down, Josh Sills went in, and I though he played tremendously given the circumstances.”
There was also Will Grier, who overcame a bit of a rusty start to put up the 11th-best single game total offense performance in Mountaineer history. Spavital said he had no doubts that the transfer would play well, despite having not been on the field in almost two years.
“He w was ready to play. His preparation, the way he approaches the game, it’s no shocker. It’s very comforting to me — his mentality, how calm he is, how relaxed he is and how focused he is. He brings some great ideas about the game, and he communicates all the time. I was very pleased with how he handled it all, and it’s not a shocker because you see how much work he puts into it. He can make all the throws, which you saw in the game, but now that it’s on film that he can run it out of there, I think he’s going to be even more dangerous.
With that opener out of the way, Spavital is looking forward to this week’s game, which he notes ‘can’t come soon enough’. He’s anticipating getting another weapon to work with, and shared the overall message that he wants the offense to grasp.
“We have good receivers. But we don’t have that 4.3 guy that can get that separation and stretch the field vertically. Marcus will give us that. But the main thing I tell the team is it has to be about us and what we are trying to do. We can’t let that be the best ball we play all year. We have to improve each week.”