Justin Crawford Helps West Virginia Running Backs Develop Depth In Week Two of Fall Camp

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - With all major contributors back from a season ago it comes as no surprise that West Virginia's wide receivers aren't missing a beat in practice. With only Rushel Shell back at running back there may be some rebuilding to do there, but running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider feels they may be reloading there as well, with three, or maybe even four backs who have shown they could soon be game ready.

Entering the second week of camp it sounds as if Justin Crawford hasn't missed a beat in adapting to playing in West Virginia's offense. Running backs coach Ja'Juan Seider credits the ease of his transition to the offense he ran in junior college.

"What helps Justin is at the junior college he comes from they did a lot of the same stuff so his learning curve is way ahead of where I thought it would be," Seider said about the former junior college all-American.

While Crawford has been adept in picking up the offense he is also ahead of schedule with pass protection, which is something many new backs struggle with when they get to the college level. Seider continued to praise the Crawford saying he isn't making the same mistakes practice after practice, he is instead correcting those mistakes and progressing into a serious contender for some playing time and pushing the rotation to three running backs. 

"Two days he made a mistake," Seider said. "Yesterday he didn't make that mistake. Just seeing that, he's making that progression that you want to see. He's so tuned in on what's going on that I could give him a script out there while we're practicing and he can put himself in that formation."

Seider also praised true freshman running back Martell Pettaway and his ability to transition into the Mountaineers offense. If Pettaway keeps playing at a high level Seider may have a tough decision to make about whether to redshirt the promising freshman or make him an official part of the rotation. But while Seider sounded optimistic about his newcomers he didn't mince words about the veteran in the running back room.

"(Rushel Shell) has been in great shape," Seider said. "It's just kind of taking that lead dog mentality. He had a lot of obstacles to overcome early. Rushel would have had a great year last year if he didn't have Wendell (Smallwood) in front of him. Keep letting him feel like he's a bad player. Any man or father who has a kid in camp and has aspirations of going to the NFL, if his priorities weren't where they should be then he becomes focused and now if he comes in with less distractions and it allows him to focus better. This is the best he's looked. I'm very pleased with how he looks carrying over from the spring to the summer. I'm very pleased with how he looks."

With a room full of returning players, Tyron Carrier doesn't have to focus nearly as much on the nuances of the West Virginia offense. Instead, Carrier can help receivers focus on improving their individual games and improve on the inconsistencies that plagued last year's unit. Carrier specifically discussed what Ka'Raun White and the need to be more consistent threat in the Mountaineers offense.

"I'm trying to get him consistent as possible," Carrier said. "To me he has a ways to go but hopefully we can tap into it by game one."

Carrier also said White did show spurts of what made his brother, Kevin, a first round draft pick in the 2015 NFL draft, but the big difference was that Kevin was a more consistent player. When asked about junior speedster Shelton Gibson, Carrier cited route running as one of Gibson's biggest points of focus in fall camp.

"I feel like I was brought here to really pay attention to the detail of running routes and helping (Gibson) catch the ball a little bit better too," Carrier said. "I feel like he's getting to that point where he's understanding the purpose of getting your depth, what foot to come off of, what foot to plant off of."

Carrier also said Gibson has improved his catching ability as well, citing the need to catch balls that come straight to him on intermediate routes instead of the balls that he catches on go routes that will come over his shoulder. Carrier said he see's Gibson attacking the ball better than he has in the past and feels comfortable with where the junior wide receiver is at. Many of Carrier's comments about Gibson echoed what head coach Dana Holgorsen had said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.




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