“We have a lot of depth. We know what we have to do to be successful,” said White, the offensive representative for WVU during Big 112 media days this week. “The receivers (last year) didn’t spend a lot of time with any one quarterback. The signal (cadence was) different, the balls were different. We weren’t on the same page. It was very frustrating.
“I could tell the difference (in the communication with quarterback Clint Trickett) when we ran seven-on-seven this summer. He ran a lot of checks. He knew exactly what was going on. He read the defense well. A lot of teams, the coach gives the play, they run it. Our offense, the quarterback runs the whole offense. It was frustrating (last season) compared to now, when we know who our quarterback is going to be. I might see some things different than some (other quarterbacks). We put a lot of extra time in. It’s better. We have a lot better communication.”
White, along with fellow upperclassmen Mario Alford and returning starters like Daikel Shorts will key a receiving unit that was considered largely underachieving after West Virginia averaged 26.3 points and 262.3 yards via the air. But many pundits failed to consider that Alford and White were spending their first season in the program and, historically, most junior college players don’t fully integrate and begin to mesh within the offense until their second season.
White, for example, should certainly exceed his 35 receptions for 507 yards this season barring injury. He was an on-again, off-again prospect at times, catching more than five passes in four games, with seven against Oklahoma and Baylor. But White had just four total catches over the three-game span of Georgia State, Maryland and Oklahoma State. Add in the one catch in the 30-27 overtime victory at TCU, and it almost seemed like the Mountaineers were winning when the 6-3, 209-pounder was at his least productive. The truth is that the defense played far better in those three wins, which offset the lack of total offensive production.
“I worked on getting in and out of my break, being more physical when the ball is in the air, trying to grab it and secure it,” White said. “My strength, I think is that I’m a deep threat and I can make some things happen when the ball is in my hand. I also like blocking, so the cornerback might have some trouble getting off. I got quicker, faster, more explosive.”
As did Alford, who, at just 5-8, 178 pounds, showcased his burst and vision in the return game in taking the opening kickoff of the Gold-Blue spring contest 99 yards for a touchdown. The Georgia Military transfer, called out by head coach Dana Holgorsen in the postgame for “not making as many plays at receiver as I would have liked,” tallied 27 catches for 52 yards and a pair of scores last year – stats that don’t jump off the page, but were still good enough to rate 17th in the league in yardage. He averaged more than 20 yards per catch and nearly 21 per kickoff return.
“We have to get him the ball quite a bit more,” Holgorsen said.
Add in Daikel Shorts, who tied departed NFL running back Charles Sims for the team lead with 45 catches, and WVU would seem to have a clear top three who should be ablee ti find a groove with Trickett. Shorts, 6-1, 196 lbs., totaled 495 yards, averaging 11 per catch, and appears ready to emerge as a solid option in the midrange game. But after the big three, the lines begin to blur. Jordan Thompson is seemingly a role player. Ronald Carswell and Ivan McCartney are gone, and Wendell Smallwood’s availability to work out of the slot is questionable after his legal issues. That leaves plyers like K.J. Myers, Jacky Marcellus and Devonte Mathis and unproven commodities Shelton Gibson and Ricky Rogers, among others, to mix in as needed.