After West Virginia's 38-21 victory over Youngstown State, one thing about the Mountaineers' running back rotation became clear: Rushel Shell is by far the most dependable and consistent option the Mountaineers have to this point in the season. After Justin Crawford showed flashes of brilliance and rushed for 101 yards in the opener against Missouri, he looked rather pedestrian against Youngstown State, picking up a mere 40 yards on 12 carries and tempering the expectations of Mountaineer fans everywhere. On the flip side of those performances was true freshman Kennedy McKoy, who showed his youth and inexperience against Missouri missing an assignment and forcing a broken play where Skyler Howard came up slow at the end of the first half. But McKoy quickly bounced back and displayed flashes of his ability against Youngstown State, rushing for 34 yards on just three carries and catching a 21 yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.
And then there's the veteran Shell, who through two games has consistently been able to hit holes and pick up solid yardage, rushing for 90 and 84 yards on 16 carries in both games. Shell's improvement may be surprising to West Virginia fans, but its something that Ja'Juan Seider had discussed all spring and summer. Seider isn't worried about either Crawford or McKoy after two performances and he discussed what he expects to see from the backs going forward.
"I wouldn't say they're up and down," Seider said. "It's just a freshman being a freshman. You can see him making improvements. (McKoy) really had one play in that game that stood out and he really didn't have a chance to overcome it. It was the heat of the moment and we had two other guys rolling."
Seider also commented on the dip in production from Justin Crawford's first to second game.
"It's the next day," Seider said. "You're always trying to improve and put a game behind you. I'm glad (the Youngstown State game) happened the way it happened because he showed glimpses of playing game one with no mistakes and all of the (mistakes) from game two was coachable. You can fix that. He's so hungry to do well so he'll come back from that."
Just like new players, new college coaches must also learn on the fly and prove their worth during games. Whether it be making in-game adjustments on the fly, motivating players or exploiting mismatches, coordinators and position coaches must stay in constant contact with the head coach about what they're seeing from the other side. It appears as if Tyron Carrier has already make an impression on Dana Holgorsen. In Tuesday's press conference Holgorsen revealed it was Carrier who suggested that Kennedy McKoy release and go deep on the late touchdown against Youngstown State. Carrier's familiarity with the Holgorsen and his offense have helped him immensely and already proven him a worthy successor to Lonnie Galloway. Carrier discussed his relationship with Holgorsen and his comfort level with the head man.
"(Holgorsen) is slightly different than what he was before," Carrier said. "It's more learning what he wants in a game situation - what he's looking at and what he wants to know. I saw my opportunity to put a play in and thankfully it worked. He was the same way when I was a player. I was quick to come to the sideline and voice my opinion. Sometimes I was a little too emotional because I was playing but he was the guy who would sit back and listen and actually apply it."
Carrier isn't the only new coach on the staff, and he feels that the addition of Joe Wickline has also helped in many aspects of the game.
"It makes (Holgorsen) 20 times more comfortable having guys who know what he wants and what he does," Carrier said. "I'm not saying that the guys who have been here longer didn't know, they have a better feel than (the newer coaches) do. We're still learning from each other as a staff but it makes it a lot easier when you have been in the offense or you coached in it in prior years before. It was a little different than it was when (Joe Wickline) coached in it or when I playedd in it."