Junior college transfer Kevin White has all of the physical attributes needed to thrive as an outside receiver. He's tall, has long arms and big hands, and has the ability to snatch the football away from defenders. He's spent more than a year in WVU's system, and is comfortable with his assignments. Now, according to him, it's a matter of finishing plays to bring his production, and that of an up-and-down receiving corps, to a higher level.
After a junior season in which he caught 35 passes for 507 yards and five scores, White knows that he needs to be more consistent to help the Mountaineer offense improve. Following West Virginia's spring Gold-Blue game, he cited a few areas that are at the top of his list.
"On a slant route, I let Jarrod Harper tackle me one-on-one, and I don't like that," he said referring not to Harper's ability but to his own performance in missing a chance to add more yards after the catch. "We have to come off the ball when it's a run play. Finishing our routes and finishing plays, those are things we have to do better."
The latter items might well be goals of the team as a whole, as effort was not at peak level, especially in the final two games of the season. White recognizes that, and as it was clearly an emphasis of receivers coach Lonnie Galloway during the spring, had it planted in his consciousness from the outset of drills.
Even with those goals, however, the defense was still able to come out on top over the course of the spring, according to White. While "the offense won a few days", he admits that it was the defense's spring.
"It's hard to say but I'm just being honest. We had some good days, but the defense won overall." I think my day [the spring game] was alright, but we have to improve."
While White did not offer any excuses for the offense's performance, the constantly changing personnel at quarterback and wide receiver had to have played at least a partial role. Each QB throws it differently, and it can be difficult to adjust from series to series, or practice rep to practice rep, which a different face pops up behind center.
"You have to get used to it. They are competing and we are competing, so they aren't going to get the same receiver every time, just like we aren't going to get the same QB every time," White noted. "There are differences, but that's not anything that should change the way we play."
While the battle to build familiarity with the quarterbacks continued on offense, the same factor was in play for the defensive backs facing the receivers in drills.
"I'm against Icky (Banks) a lot, and Daryl (Worley) was against Mario Alford a lot," White noted. "Their technique has progressed a lot, and they are doing well at getting off the line and fighting for the ball. It makes it a lot harder going aginst one guy. They pick up on things we are doing and are able to counter them and react more quickly."
White reiterated more than once, though, that what the defense does can't be used as an excuse for the receivers not making plays of their own. While noting that the corners have resumed backpedaling as part of their coverage repertoire (which allows them to flip their hips and run more quickly on deep routes), it's up to the receivers to make improvements in their own play to match.
"We want to bring it up a few more notches over the summer," said White, who is entering his final year of eligibility.
Improved receiver play is imperative for West Virginia, especially in light of the quarterback situation and last year's spotty production. If the Mountaineers can get three or four passcatchers that are consistent, and can be relied upon no matter what the situation, the job of the quarterback will be a little easier. That wasn't the case a year ago, and it contributed to the struggles at the position. In White, WVU has a potential weapon who can make plays downfield, and who has shown the ability to make tacklers miss. Now, it's up to him (and his teammates) to take the final step to more consistent play.