Coming off of a week one win against Missouri, the biggest story line among West Virginia's wide receiver group was the performance of Daikiel Shorts, who registered eight catches for 131 yards. Receivers coach Tyron Carrier spoke about Shorts and what enabled him to a career day in West Virginia's opener.
"If his confidence went up I probably broke it down a little bit," Carrier jokingly said. "He was a guy that got a lot of the balls that game and (Missouri) kind of helped us out on that because he was able to maneuver his way and do what he does best, (which is) maneuvering in the inside and finding those holes to sit in and he did that. The only problem is that he got a little tired and he went back to his old ways."
Carrier then discussed preparation for Youngstown State, noting that its corners play a little closer to the ball, which should give the outside receivers a better chance to make plays and get involved in the offense.
"(Youngstown state's secondary) play a little closer," Carrier said. "It will probably give our outside guys a chance to make plays but I think the middle is still looking pretty open for us. But you really never know until you line up against those guys and see what they're going to do."
Entering the Youngstown Sate match-up Carrier said he hopes his players don't revert back to some of the bad habits that he has worked diligently with his group to break. He revealed that late in the Missouri game he saw his receivers become fatigued and that caused them to lose attention to detail, and that was the one negative that stuck out to him when reviewing the unit's opening day performance.
"I think we did pretty well (against Missouri)," Carrier said. "The only thing I had a problem with is when my guys got tired they kind of went back into old habits and in order to be a really good receiving core we can't do that. It was everybody too, it wasn't anyone in particular, it was every last one of them."
It was just two years ago when West Virginia cycled through a bevy of skill position and secondary players searching for a competent punt returner. At that time, the answer to its punt return woes, Gary Jennings, was playing his senior season at Colonial Forge High School in Virginia. Jennings, who chose the Mountaineers over Notre Dame on national signing, cemented himself as the most consistent option at punt returner in his true freshman season a year ago. He has already shown the ability to catch the ball in traffic, but this year the goal is to get the sophomore receiver some big returns. Jennings talked about his first game as the full-time returner.
"I felt comfortable," Jennings said. "We'll get some things more down pat in practice but moving forward I think we're going to be fine."
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said he was displeased with the punt return blocking, as he defended Jennings for not calling for more fair catches, saying that each ball would have been returnable if it wasn't for the lack of blocking in front of him on the plays. Jennings, however, did admit he could have avoided some of the big hits he took in Saturday's opener if he would have called for more fair catches.
"There were quite a few (instances where I should have called fair catch)," Jennings jokingly admitted after reviewing film of Missouri's punts.
Jennings also discussed the adjustment from returning punts in practice to doing it in live-game situations.
"In practice guys are running past you but it's not full contact," Jennings said. "There's a difference but as far as the speed goes it's fairly the same."
Jennings also spoke a little bit about the Mountaineers' upcoming game with Youngstown State, easing West Virginia fans' fears over whether or not the Mountaineers will attack the field with the same emotion and intensity that they showed in week one.
"For us we're always on alert," Jennings said. "We're told every week not to take out opponents lightly and to practice like it's a top team every weekend."null