Passing Game Return?

When the West Virginia football team began its season with a pass dominated offense, to say that fans were excited was an understatement. After years of an offense that was all about the run, West Virginia's receivers were finally going to be showcased.

However, the Mountaineers came out in their next two games against East Carolina and Colorado and seemed to be back to their old rushing ways. To spectators, it seemed as if the Mountaineer could not find an offensive scheme to stay with.

Despite that apparent shift in philosophy, wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway has not given up faith that passing will play a big part in the remainder of the Mountaineers season.

"I don't feel like we're going to go back to a run-dominated offense," WVU's first-year receivers coach said. "Each day, with the receivers, to play for me you have to be able to run, block, and catch the football. We're worried about that. We're not headed back to a run-dominated offense. We're going to do whatever it takes to win. If that's running, that's running and if it's throwing that's throwing."

Passing may be the Mountaineers' key to victory, at least based on its results to date. In the season opener against Villanova, WVU had 266 yards passing and five passing touchdowns. During the Mountaineers loss at East Carolina, they threw for 72 yards and no scores. Productivity dropped even further against Colorado, where the wideouts did not play a substantial part in the Mountaineer offense. WVU had just 43 yards receiving, and again, no scores.

Despite the receivers' lack of participation against the Buffaloes, Coach Galloway was pleased with the effort.

"They played all right," he allowed. "Obviously, you have to make plays when it's time to make plays. That's what I preach to them is that when it's time to make plays that you have to make them because you never know when that play is going to have an effect on the game. You have to take advantage of the opportunities that you get and go from there. We're good. We're right where we need to be."

As for this week, when the Mountaineers play host to in-state rivals Marshall, Galloway is aware of the Herd's defensive strengths and plans to adjust for them.

"We started watching (Marshall) here on Sunday. They're a good team, 3-1. They're really good on defense. They move around really well. We expect them to come in here and give their best shot. It's an instate rival so it should be good," Galloway said of Saturday's game. "They do a good job down there with their coach. They have a couple of guys that I know. It will be a really good football game. They're playing hard. We will be excited to play them just like they will be excited to play us."

While Galloway remains confident that the passing game will be a part of WVU's attack this year, he isn't going to give up any detailed information regarding the week's game plan. Some of that is due to any coach's natural reticence to divulge the ins and outs of the plan, but some of that also has to do with reaction to what that week's opponent is willing to yield.

"It all boils down to what they're giving us and how we execute. Are we going to go in and throw it 100 times? No. Are we going to go in and run it 100 times? No. We're just going to go in and try to execute the plays that we call and if they're pass plays, they're pass plays and if they're run plays, they're run plays. Everybody will be fine," said Galloway.

So, while fans will have to wait until Saturday to see what Galloway and the rest of the offense pull out of their hat against the Herd, it seems clear that WVU's receivers coach doesn't expect the passing game to be totally shelved. And while West Virginia does need to run the ball to be successful, there's no dobut that some balance, featuring some of the passing WVU displayed against Villanova, would give the Mountaineers a better chance at success.


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