Photo from WVU Sports
Since the Towson game, many WVU fans want to believe that freshman quarterback William Crest, Jr. is the answer to WVU’s red-zone issue. What the fans are failing to realize is that putting Crest in was safe, since WVU had the game well in-hand when he entered the game.
QB Clint Trickett cost WVU a touchdown in each of the 1st two games: The low pass to Elijah Wellman against Alabama, and the low pass to Cody Clay against Towson.
That is not to say Trickett has not had two excellent games overall, obviously he is playing better than most expected. But everyone can improve.
Trickett needs to get the ball up when throwing to the tight-ends, as they have problems reaching down as low as a Kevin While or a Mario Alford.
The issue with running the ball in the red-zone is no different than anywhere else on the field. WVU does a good job running the ball outside except in the red-zone. Only once in the 1st two games have they ran the ball successfully in the middle, and that was against Alabama in the 1st half.
The reason for the success on this one play compared to all other attempts, is that the offensive line maintained a push on the defense and got to the 2nd level to block downfield. Better red-zone performance dictates that the coaches teach the OL to do a better job of smash mouth run blocking.
The red-zone is a tight area and is easier to defend. While Crest had good runs against Towson, you have to remember it was against Towson, and no matter what happened WVU was going to win.
The fans saw this and the Towson players probably realized it, so the plays worked. Crest probably would not have had the same success if WVU had been playing Alabama, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Maryland, etc. especially if the game was close.
For the Mountaineers to have a reasonable chance at a winning season, the OL has to improve on run blocking. They have got to open the initial hole and then be able to block at the next level downfield.
Right now WVU’s run game is one dimensional and that is running outside off the edge. This will not be enough when playing Big XII teams.
When a team is successful running both inside and outside, then the passing game works much better and it is harder for defenses to shut them down.
When Trickett scored his TD against Towson, he went between the guard and the end, for the OL blocked the Towson defense to the inside, and the Towson defense could not adjust.
The first lineman, whether it be on the offense or the defense that can get is hands under the shoulder pads of the other, wins the push off the line. This must be be done quickly while moving forward, and once done the player wins the battle at the line of scrimmage.
Some players want to draw their arms back before making contact to give them more power – this is referred to as cocking. However, this costs critical seconds.
The most effective technique is come straight up with your hands inside and just at the bottom of the opponents shoulder pads, keep the head up and place the facemask into middle of the pads, driving the opponent where you want him to go.
The key to red-zone efficiency is being able to gain 4 or more yards when running up the middle. Right now, WVU is only getting 1 to 3 yards.
When WVU’s offensive line consistently wins these battles on running plays, you will see more WVU scoring in the red-zone. This is not simply a red-zone issue, it is an extremely important aspect of the running game.