I Think I'm In Love With Our Offense

"Calm down," I tell myself. "Don't get carried away." This might not be a long-term relationship. It might not even be a brief romance. Maybe she was just innocently flirting when she winked at me and smiled. Maybe she didn't intend to be so ... seductive.

But I've fallen for her. WVU's new offense is beautiful, sexy, exciting, fantastic.

My wife knows not to worry. This isn't going to wreck our marriage. She's a WVU football fan too, so she understands.

Springtime may indeed be a time when "a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love," but after WVU's spring game this year, the fancy of a lot of Mountaineer fans has turned to thoughts of touchdowns. Lots and lots of touchdowns.

Now spring has turned to summer, and summer means that fall practice and the start of a new season of WVU football is right around the corner. And I still can't get the images of the Gold-Blue game out of my mind.

"Calm down," I tell myself. "Don't get carried away."

But it's hard to not get carried away. Did you see that offense? Did you see that passing game? If you did not see the spring game, you owe it to yourself to at least watch the highlights. It's three and a half minutes of a gold and blue blood transfusion. I can watch that little video over and over.

Coach Dana Holgorsen's offense is made for Geno Smith. This offense is a gift from the stars above for Geno and talented receivers like Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and our other wideouts.

And speaking of receivers, where did some of these guys come from? Suddenly we have receivers coming out of the woodwork. Who among you knew about Willie Milhouse before the Gold-Blue game? I'd read that Tyler Urban had been turning heads in practices, but he looks downright dangerous in the slot.

And then there's Ryan Nehlen, he of vertical leaps, acrobatic catches, and sure hands. He looks for all the world like an all-conference wideout. Did you see the catches he made? Now, I admire Don Nehlen tremendously. Coach Nehlen put WVU football on the map. But if Ryan performs like that in the regular season, people might start referring to Coach Nehlen just as "Ryan's grandfather."

And those receivers are only a glimpse of the wide receiver storm that's going to sweep over and through opposing defenses this fall. Players like Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and other fast, skilled receivers are going to be sensational in this offense. Seriously, the rest of the Big East needs to be looking for faster cleats and self-help tackling videos. And maybe books on maintaining their self-esteem.

And Geno Smith will get those receivers the ball. Deep, short, all over the lot. Geno looks fantastic in this offense.

Behind him on the depth chart is another gift of spring. True freshman Paul Millard, new to WVU's campus in January, already looks like a highly capable backup quarterback. In the years ahead, he could step in when Geno graduates and be a star in his own right.

"Calm down," I tell myself. "Don't get carried away."

But then I watch the video clip again and the wonderful surprises at running back make my jaw drop. Sophomore Trey Johnson and freshman Vernard Roberts, another player who has just one semester under his belt at WVU, looked outstanding. There's also a buzz about two more running back recruits -- Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison -- who are in Morgantown this summer and have the potential to be big-time tailbacks for the Gold and Blue. And let's not forget returning running backs like Shawne Alston and Ryan Clarke.

On a few plays in the spring game, when our backs got the ball on the edge, our outside running lanes reminded me of Green Bay's famous power sweep as Vince Lombardi drew it up on his chalkboard: "What we're trying to get is a seal here, and a seal here, and try to run this play ... in the alley." Beautiful.

That might be the first time the Air Raid offense has ever been mentioned in conjunction with Lombardi's power sweep. I'm not suggesting the schemes are remotely the same. I'm just saying it was nice to see a back catch a screen pass and have a wide lane to run through. Probably every offense tries in some way to get lanes like that for the backs. Our pass blocking was also sensational. Even more encouraging, our offensive line is just getting started with this offense.

The pace of our offense also struck me as rapid and terrific. Once again, this offense is just getting started. But the pace of our offense was what a few years ago we wished the pace of our offense could be. Then all the offensive players had to stand and look over to the sideline for the coach to react to the defense and signal in a change. Now we line up and go. Fast and forward.

Coach Holgorsen, the early returns seem to indicate, promises less than he delivers.

"Calm down," I tell myself.

But I can't help it. I try to not wish my life away, but I can hardly wait for the opening game. I can hardly wait to walk up to the stadium and through the concourse and through the portal to that instant when the scene opens up before me and I see the bright September sun shining on Mountaineer Field and the WVU players going through their pregame warmups. It's one of my favorite moments every year. And this year it will carry an even heightened sense of excitement.

Yes, I know. "Calm down." What we saw in the Gold-Blue game was the first-team offense performing against a rebuilding defense comprising mostly backups that played base schemes. That wasn't LSU out there on the defensive side of the ball, or even Pitt. I tell myself to temper my expectations accordingly.

But it doesn't work. I'm smitten. As much as I love our defense year in and year out, I've fallen for our new offense. I can hardly wait for the season to begin. This offense will rewrite our record books. This offense will put up a ton of points.

This fall, the old couches of Morgantown are in serious jeopardy.

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