Searching For the Total Package

Despite an impressive night on the ground against Virginia Tech, head coach Rich Rodriguez is still looking for more consistent blocking from his wide receivers.

"We're still trying to get complete play from our wide receivers, which we haven't gotten all year," Rodriguez said before Tuesday's practice. "We are still looking for guys who can bring an all-around game. We might have to do some of that by committee."

The size of that committee certainly isn't shrinking any. Rodriguez lists Chris Henry, Nathan Forse and Miquelle Henderson as back side wideouts, Travis Garvin, John Pennington and Miquelle Henderson in the slot, and, Rayshawn Bolden, Jubal Thomas and Dee Alston as competitors at the front side spot.

Although each player brings something to the table, Rodriguez is looking for the individuals that will catch, block and run to grab the bulk of the playing time.

"We didn't block on the perimeter the way we need to in the last game. We're accustomed to a higher standard of blocking than what we've been seeing," Rodriguez explained. "If they don't block well, or miss too many, they are not going to play. I think they are commtted to blocking, and I think over the next five ballgames we'll see better blocking.

"Coach Bird has used clips of Mike Page, Derrick Smith, A. J. Nastasi and Phil Braxton from last year to demonstrate that. Those guys took great pride in their blocking."

Rodriguez also commented on a couple of individual players at the position.

"(Rayshawn) Bolden's first year we thought he'd be a talented guy, but we didn't see it. Then he made great strides in the spring, and worked very hard in the summer. He has a big frame and has a lot of ability. We are really pleased with his progress. There were times during camp when he showed signs of being a dominant player. He still has some fundamental things to work on, but I think his future is great, because you can see him take a step every week.

"Travis Garvin's mental state has been good since he came back (from his cousin's funeral). He has worked hard and been extremely focused.


Rodriguez believes that Central Florida most resembles Cincinnait in terms of playing style, but notes that they also have some things in common with West Virginia.

"Offensively, they compare to Cincy in terms of style and athletic ability at the skill positions. I like their running backs. They run hard. They are kind of like us up front; they are young, and they run some similar stuff to what we run.

"Quarterback Ryan Schneider is kind of like Guidugli. He has been in big stadiums, and he's a fifth year senior. When he's not in there, they've had to do some different things on offense.

"Defensively, they might be similar to Cincinnati, but they run a little different scheme. Their defensive line has a couple of players that everyone in the country recruited, and their secondary is very athletic. They've gotten a lot of junior college guys over the past couple of years. They do a lot of zone blitzing - they'll bring pressure off the edge and drop linemen into coverage.

* * *

The WVU coaches that didn't go on the road recruiting this past weekend (the NCAA allows only seven coaches on the road at a time), got a head start on Central FLorida's game film.

* * *

The injury outlook is not bad, but Rodriguez is concerned about injuries in general, with five straight weeks of play at the end of the season.

Tackle Josh Stewart is sore but should be practicing today, while center Ben Timmons should be ready to go. Fullback Moe Fofana has a sore shoulder and will miss at least a couple more days of practice, but is expected to be able to play on Saturday.

On defense, linebacker Leandre Washington has a sore hip, but should be back for the UCF game as well.

"Having the extra few days of rest has helped, but I like getting back into the routine of playing every Saturday as long as we can stay healthy," Rodriguez noted. Citing Central Florida's Scheider as an exampled, Rodriguez pointed out that one injury can have a big effect on a team's season.

* * *

Running back Jason Colson lined up in the slot a couple of times against Virginia Tech, and could see more action at that position during November. That's not a position switch, but rather an effort to get him on the field and the ball in his hands.

* * *

Rodriguez has also been spending a great deal of time working onthe emotional level of his team. After seeing the results of the Tech game, Rodriguez says there's no excuse not to be up for each contest.

"We've talked about emotional levels at length. I think it's helped that the game has been over for almost a week now. We're emphazing that we're just trying to get back to .500. We worked really hard for a Monday practice, and we'll try to get them refocused on the importance of this ballgame."

Mountaineers Daily Top Stories