By George O’Bryan –
WVU football has lacked a quality running game or special teams since Don Nehlen was head coach. It was bad play by special teams that helped LSU beat WVU, not once, but twice.
When Bill Bedenbaugh was the offensive line coach, I blamed him for WVU not being able to run the ball. However, with what he has done with Oklahoma’s offensive line, it is evident he was not the problem.
Most of Rich Rodriguez’ runs were sweeps, few were up the middle. I do not understand why in all these years, WVU hasn’t been able to accomplish that.
Running up the middle sets up running outside as well as being key to the passing game. For WVU to compete for the Big 12 title, they have to be able to run between the tackles.
When I look at WVU’s running game, I don’t know if it is the system, the coaches, or the talent of the players that is lacking.
After the Oklahoma game, we heard that they were bigger, stronger, and faster. I don’t see this as an excuse. Oklahoma’s offensive line was not a group of giants.
Each player on WVU’s offensive line is 300 pounds or more. Oklahoma’s offensive line is not made up of players that outweigh WVU’s offensive line by 50 lbs.
Coaches can’t teach everything. Players on the field have to observe and adjust. In other words they have to adapt and overcome. If an opponent is beating me on my blocks, I will discover what I have to do to stop it.
My adrenaline is going to increase, and I’m going to hit my opponent harder. At some point I am going to get mad, having had enough. If I cannot do this, then I shouldn’t be on the field.
I keep hearing WVU sources say Coach DeForest has to go. However, they may regret that. DeForest has improved WVU’s punting and kicking game, as well as the play of the safeties.
Maybe what DeForest needs is help. Could he simply have too much on his plate? Maybe the solution is to hire a special teams coach, and allow DeForest to remain the kickers, punters, and safeties coach.
One thing I noticed in the Alabama, Maryland, and Oklahoma games is that WVU’s defense gets out of position instead of playing assignment football. That must stop in order to have a winning season.
WVU’s defense also has not done well at creating turnovers in the past few years, and sacks are too rare. We keep hearing they are working on this, but there have been few signs of its improvement.
While these are negatives, the positive this season is that WVU has a team that has a chance to finish 8 – 4. There is enough talent.
However, going forward there must be a focus on the basic running game, especially in the red zone. The Mountaineers must have the ability to play smash mouth football inside the 10 yard line.
If you do not have the ability to run between the tackles, then it is hard to teach a defense to defend it.
My suggestion for WVU would be to seek advice from some of the NFL’s offensive line coaches, such as the OL coach for Seattle Seahawks, Cincinnati Bengals, etc.
Advice from those who are successful at doing this could greatly help them, and it certainly would not hurt.