A Matter Of Trust

As the offensive line rebuilds and a new crop of running backs competes for playing time, assistant coach Calvin Magee says that building a relationship of trust between the units is a key in the progress of the ball carriers.

"They have to trust them," Magee said of the running backs and what they have to do to get comfortable running behind the new players up front. "The plays we run depend a lot on believing in your reads and believing in your keys. Our young backs have to trust those reads, even when it looks like it's not going to be there. They have to trust that the offensive lineman is going to be there when he's supposed to be. As a back, they have to trust that and continue on their tracks."

Like any other learning process, that development of trust and familarity takes time, and that commodity is in short supply during the spring. However, according to Magee, it's something that can't be rushed. In the popular words of the coaches, it can take a while "before the lights come on."

Last year, the same process was underway with Quincy Wilson, who worked hard but just wasn't quite where Magee wanted him in terms of committing to the play.

"Quincy was just going along and struggling a little bit with the offense," Magee recounted. "We knew he had the talent, but he was just not quite getting it. Then suddenly the light came on. It started when one day I sat down with Quincy and I told him 'forget about everything. Just forget about everything and go play, and go have fun. Forget about the mistakes, and just go play'. And that helped him a lot.

Form that point on, Quincy became a terror to opponents, and it all boiled down to that matter of trust -- committing to the play, trusting his teammates to be there, and running hard.

Magee hopes to see that improvement come about for his young backs, who include Jason Colson, Erick Phillips and Bryan Wright, but he knows it's not an overnight process. Also, there's no magic formula -- each player sees "the lights come on" in different ways, and as a result of different teaching techniques.

"That just takes time," Magee noted. It's a matter of them working together and getting used to each other."

To help them get to that level, Magee employs a technique that some other coaches don't use. In addition to video clips of plays and techniques that worked, Magee sometimes shows them plays that didn't work, and why.

"So many people stay away from that kind of stuff, but that's what you have to do to teach," Magee said of the practice. "You can't just teach them all good things. You have to show them what not to do and show them why a play doesn't work.

"So, we show them. But, Quincy wants to cut all those plays out of the film," Magee laughed.

So, where are the Mountaineers in this learning process? Magee thinks they are on track, but again cautioned that his young players are still in the first learning stages.

"I think we're about where we thought we would be. We have some youth, so we knew it would take them a while to understand the tempo and learn the offense. I want the young guys to know the offense by the end of the spring, so they can just come out and play and not have to think about it. We want them to leave the spring understanding the schemes, so they can go out and fly around and not do a whole bunch of thinking."

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