WVU Special Teams Will Be Group Effort For Mountaineer Football Coaching Staff
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Similar to the manner in which he handled special teams duties in his previous job at Troy, West Virginia head football coach Neal Brown will split special teams assignments among his assistant coaching staff. That doesn’t mean the group is being shunted into a lesser area of focus, however. Brown said that during the spring, a minimum of 25-30 minutes will be spent on coaching special teams techniques in the allotted 15 spring practices.
The smaller number of players available in the spring can make it difficult to run full 11-on-11 special teams work, but Brown, known for his emphasis on the units, won’t let that stop him working on the skills applicable to each.
“We work technique. We’ll work 25 or 30 minutes of special teams every single day,” Brown explained. “Today, we worked aspects of punt, field goal, field goal block and punt return. Basically, what we’ll do is each phase will have a certain number of days, no fewer than nine or 10 of the 15, we’ll work each phase through a lot of drills and a lot of technique. We talk with our players about special teams’ technique and effort. Effort is something that we have to demand from coach to player. We have to demand the effort. Then, we have to do a really good job of teaching the technique. ”
In perhaps a bit of a surprise, inside linebackers coach Blake Seiler will have overall coordination responsibility for special teams, and will also handle the punt team. It might have been expected that one of the coaches who came with Brown from Troy, and would thus be more familiar with the schemes and tactics he employed, would have been the choice. Instead, it will be Seiler, who comes to WVU after a decade at Kansas State, which he capped as defensive coordinator in 2018.
Under Seiler will be a coach responsible for each unit — a “lead” in Brown’s parlance.
“Blake will be the coordinator, and he will be in charge of the punt team,” Brown revealed. “Al Pogue will be in charge of our punt return unit. Jahmile Addae will lead the [kickoff] and Chad Scott will lead our kickoff return. Coach (Matt) Moore will lead the field goal team, and Coach (Jordan) Lesley will lead the field goal block team.”
While that still leaves four assistants without a special teams lead role, Brown said that doesn’t mean they will be sidelined when the third units are on the practice field.
“All 10 assistants have various roles on special teams. It’s something we talk about a lot. We invest time, we invest energy and use our best players. All of our coaches are involved,” Brown expanded.
The building of a technique foundation is the first step to achieving what Brown wants to see by the time the spring game is played a month from now.
“The goal coming out of the spring, special teams wise, is you want to identify your personnel. Hopefully, we’ll have a two-deep on each unit. You want to develop your techniques. So, we’re obviously teaching techniques now, but you want to develop them as you go through. And the last thing is you want a basic, fundamental understanding of your scheme. Obviously, a lot of special teams is game planned from week-to-week, but our base in each phase, we want to have a clear understanding.”