This time last year, the coaching style was intense. Every position coach was yelling about one thing or another. This year, there is still some yelling, but a lot less of it. Some people may quickly point to a missing coach, or a change in coaching philosophy. I think they would be wrong.
The difference I noticed had more to do with what they were coaching than how. During last year's camp, the coaches were trying to install a totally new system. They were teaching new fundamentals. And they had no time for mistakes.
This year, based upon my observation, and talkswith a couple of players, it appears that the team has such a good grasp of the offense, and defense, that there is more tinkering and situational coaching going on. There is a quiet confidence among the players, and the coaches can feel it. They have more confidence in the players, and their coaching style reflects it.
Much has been made of WVU's lack of downfield throwing ability. Much hasn't been made of the last two days of QB drills when all of the top three quarterbacks were completing throw after throw down the sideline 25 and 30 yards downfield.
Also, not much has been made of the accuracy of the 10-15 yard passes that are much more important to any offense than the lower percentage downfield bombs.
During situational scrimmages on Friday, Rasheed Marshall and Danny Embick were both nailing ten yard outs on a third and nine situations. Also, both quarterbacks were making good reads when checking off of their primary receivers.
Avon Coborne. Does anything really need to be said about this man? How about he is built like a rock? Avon is going to bring it this year. And someone will wake up on the sidelines and wonder how that little guy mowed him down.
It should also be noted that there is some depth at superback beyond Quincy Wilson. Look for names like Phillips and Colson in the Mountaineer future.
There has been some mention of a large defensive lineman or two dragging at the end of practice during running drills. I think someone should point out to those who think they know better than the coaches that 300 pound defensive linemen have a purpose. And covering wide receivers and running backs in a pass pattern isn't one of them.
Take up space, force the offensive line to double team you, and defensive linemen have done their job. Look for Kelvin Dubose and Fred Blueford to fill some serious space this fall. And as they start to build some more stamina, look for them to really become forces on the defensive front.
Quote of the week
Standing on the sidelines during the final scrimmage we were provided with this bit of wisdom from an unnamed reporter:
"When the coaches yell ‘ones', they are referring to the first team."
Spot the Rhodes Scholar.
The new turf at Mountaineer Field seems to be just what the doctor ordered. It looks like grass, feels like grass when you fall on it, and the ground rubber actually looks like dark soil. Standing on the surface for two hours last year would have resulted in sore feet and a sore back, and that is just for people standing around on it. The players would all be seen with rug burn pads on their arms last year.
Standing on the surface for two hours this year was like standing in your front yard, except there were gridlines, a couple of end zones and a college football team practicing there.
The new turf isn't the only renaissance happening at Mountaineer Field on Don Nehlen Drive.
When you get to the UTC game this year, look around and think how much fun it would be to pressure wash the entire place. Then raise your glass to the people doing it now. It is a thankless job, one that a lot of people may not ever notice.
Following the scrub down there will be new sealant applied to the stadium over the next three seasons. It will still be gray. But it will be a fancy gray.
The scoreboards also got a new paint job this year. It would be really nice if we could get someone to donate some gold paint for a Mountaineer Field logo on the scoreboard behind the North end zone.
Don't wait until the last minute to drive to WVU for the home opener. If you do, you are likely to miss the first half. The travel songs on I-79 from Charleston to Morgantown have graduated to "2,000 orange and white barrels on the road...". There's also one lane traffic on I68 around Morgantown.
Hopefully all this construction will be completed by August 31, but consider yourself warned.
Also particularly frustrating was a construction zone in front of the Hampton Inn on Patteson Drive, which was strategically planned for the first day students could check into campus.
Throw that in with some new construction at the Hospital complex across from the stadium, and you could be sitting in some traffic lines in two weeks.
Back to the Field
Don't look now, but the wide receivers are doing a pretty good job running their routes and catching passes. Surprisingly to a lot of people, the Mountaineers leading the charge are the ones who were on the squad last year.
Miquelle Henderson is emerging as a force for WVU. Phil Braxton was mentioned several times by the coaches as having a great camp. AJ Nastasi and Mike Page will be solid go-to guys. And Dee Alston is as hard a worker as there is on this team.
When the running drills are conducted at the end of, it is Dee who is outrunning everyone in the receiver corps, even with some soreness in his leg. The new guys will contribute a lot this year, but the veterans aren't just sliding over and letting them past.
One last note
Grant Wiley is the man. Everyone knows it. It just goes unsaid. A healthy Wiley on the Mountaineer defense will lead to many a hard pop on opposing running backs.