2013 West Virginia Preview - Offense

Posted Jun 19, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - West Virginia Mountaineer Offense

West Virginia Mountaineers

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 West Virginia Preview | 2013 West Virginia Offense
- 2013 West Virginia Defense | 2013 West Virginia Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and head coach Dana Holgorsen seemed like they had it easy with a loaded attack led by quarterback Geno Smith, receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin and a veteran line that did its job, but the attack sputtered way too much over the second half of the season. The yards were there, but the clutch plays and points didn’t always follow. Now the Mountaineers have to figure out their quarterback situation and hope for all the good receiver prospects to quickly fill in the gaps left by all loss of last year’s terrific stars. Andrew Buie and the running game should be a bit stronger, while the line will be good in time with Quinton Spain and Curtis Feigt two veteran tackles flanking solid options in the interior.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Paul Millard
9-19, 87 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Andrew Buie
179 carries, 851 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Andrew Buie
28 catches, 318 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Andrew Buie
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QB Paul Millard and/or redshirt freshman QB Ford Childress and/or freshman QB Chavas Rawlins
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR K.J. Myers
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Quinton Spain
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Buie, 2) WR Myers, 3) Spain
Strength of the offense: The System, Running Backs
Weakness of the offense: Experienced Receivers, Consistency


Get ready for an ongoing quarterback battle that’s likely going to continue long into the season with plenty of second-guessing. 6-2, 219-pound junior Paul Millard is the most experienced option with good poise and nice upside. He’s not a power pitcher and he’s not going to push the ball deep, but he has a good, sharp mind and he fits what the coaching staff wants to do. He didn’t exactly shine in his limited time last season competing just 9-of-19 passes for 87 yards and two scores with a pick, but he has enough time logged into the system to be the safe choice.

Redshirt freshman Ford Childress is the chance on greatness. The 6-5, 234-pounder has a live arm and can make all the throws, showing off far more range than Millard. The bomber out of Houston threw for 3,171 yards and 41 touchdowns in just ten games as a high school senior, and while he needs time and seasoning, he’s a pure pro-style passer with the size, the arm and just enough touch to get by. A great get for the Mountaineers, he has all the tools and talents, but he has to keep his nose clean after getting in trouble last season getting arrested for a DUI.

Watch Out For … Chavas Rawlins, a 6-3, 190-pound top prospect out of Pennsylvania who keeps the interceptions to a minimum and adds more of a rushing element than the other options. While he’s not necessarily a dual-threat quarterback, he’ll take off when needed with 4.43 speed and great cutting ability. Very smart with plenty of good tools, he’ll get his chances.
Strength: The West Virginia offense. Geno Smith might have been fantastic, but he was also a part of the elite system that makes quarterbacks very, very prolific. Dana Holgorsen is one of the best offensive minds in all of football, and he’ll get the big numbers out of the starter, whoever that is.
Weakness: Geno Smith. Yes, Millard is good and Childress and Rawlins have a world of upside, but Smith threw for 4,205 yards, completed 71% of his throws and gave up six picks. Good luck replacing those numbers, as inconsistent as they might have been.
Outlook: Can West Virginia throw for well over 4,000 yards again? Maybe, but the most important aspect will be consistency and turnovers. Smith and Millard combined for just seven picks in 537 throws, and while things might have bogged down late in the year, the passing game wasn’t the team’s problem. There’s talent to play around with, and the numbers will follow.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

The running game could be a bigger part of the offense, and while the flash of Tavon Austin might be there, there’s quickness in junior Andrew Buie, a solid 5-9, 190-pounder who led the team with 851 yards and seven scores while also finishing fourth on the team with 28 catches for 318 yards. Extremely quick out of his breaks and through the hole, he has a terrific burst with the ability to be used a bit as a workhorse, running 31 times for 207 yards and two scores against Texas, but only hitting the 100-yard mark one other time against Kansas. He could be a lock for 1,000 yards with a little more work.

Can Dustin Garrison stay healthy? The 5-8, 182-pound junior ripped it up as a true freshman with 291 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries against Bowling Green on the way to a 742-yard season, but the speedster hurt his knee before the Orange Bowl win over Clemson and wasn’t quite right throughout last season finishing with just 207 yards and two scores. He bulked up close to 20 pounds over the last year and he should be able to handle more work. A great receiver as well as a runner, he’ll be used in a variety of ways.

JUCO transfer Dreamius Smith will play an instant role in the rotation. The 5-10, 215-pounder out of Butler CC ran for 984 yards and 17 scores on the way to a NJCAA national title, and while he’s not necessarily going to be a quick speedster like the Mountaineers usually utilize, he’ll bring a little thump with the ability to come up with big runs when he gets a hole. He’ll also be used as a receiver.

Watch Out For … Wendell Smallwood, a 5-11, 194-pound freshman with tremendous quickness and speed with the ability to be used as a receiver and a running back. With 4.4 speed and the toughness to run through the interior, he should quickly turn into one of the team’s better options.
Strength: Extreme quickness. West Virginia recruits to a type, and while there might not be any next-level athletes like Tavon Austin to play around with in the backfield, all the Mountaineer backs can cut on a dime and rip off big yards in chunks – potentially.
Weakness: The big yards in chunks. Considering all the focus on the passing game, West Virginia should get more out of the running game. The ground attack was pedestrian when Austin wasn’t being Austin. Buie averaged a decent 4.8 yards per carry and Garrison averaged 4.5 yards per pop, and overall the attack averaged 4.8 yards per run. That’s not bad, but it’s not amazing considering all the dangerous options.
Outlook: Contrary to popular belief, the Dana Holgorsen offense cares about the ground attack and utilizes it on a regular basis – it’s not just along for the ride. Buie and Garrison should form a nice tandem, while Smith is a terrific newcomer who should put up big numbers when he gets the chance.
Unit Rating: 7


The passing game might lose Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and J.D. Woods, but there’s more talent ready to step up and shine led by sophomore K.J. Myers. He might not be Bailey at the outside X, but the 6-2, 197-pounder was a fantastic recruit out of Jacksonville with a great combination of size and deep speed. He only caught two passes for nine yards with a three-yard score in the opener against Marshall. He’ll be backed up by freshman Daikiel Shorts, a 6-1, 200-pounder who averaged 21.4 yards per pop. Physical, he can push some people around and not just be a deep ball target.

5-9, 181-pound junior Connor Arlia wasn’t really a part of the mix, but the inside target has experience and upside. He only caught seven passes for 43 yards, and he didn’t bust out any big plays, but he’s going to be given the chance at the Y. He’ll have to hold off sophomore Jordan Thompson, a dangerous 5-7, 168-pounder who had a great offseason and now has to carry it over to the field when the lights are on. He caught 13 passes for 85 yards, but the speed is there to be like another Austin.

Kevin White wasn’t the team’s best receiver recruit this year, but the 6-4, 210-pound JUCO transfer out of Lackawanna College might have taken over a starting job at the Z. The junior isn’t going to hit many home runs, but he uses his size well on the inside and he’s a perfect fit for the offense with nice hands and crisp route running ability. 6-1, 210-pound redshirt freshman Devonte Mathis has tremendous upside and the potential to shine at any of the team’s receiver spots. A do-it-all playmaker in high school, the Miami native will combine with White at the Z, but could potentially shine on the outside.

6-3, 252-pound sophomore Cody Clay is a very big, very strong tight end who’ll work as a fullback or A-Back in the backfield. He has the hands, but he’s going to be used as a blocker who might get a few catches once in a while. 6-6, 248-pound redshirt freshman Will Johnson will also be used in an H-Back role. A big wide receiver, he might not blast away on anyone as a true fullback, but he’ll be used as a good target at tight end.

Watch Out For … the new guys. Don’t fret quite yet about the loss of all the top production. JUCO transfer Mario Alford will be used a bit like Tavon Austin as a runner and receiver, and while he doesn’t have anywhere need the same speed, he’s versatile and can move. Fellow JUCO transfer Ronald Carswell should see time right away after transferring over from Alabama. With 6-0, 180-pound size and good hands, he’ll add some nice depth. However, as good as the JUCO transfers might be, the best new prospect is freshman Shelton Gibson, a 6-1, 175-pounder out of Cleveland. Arguably one of the team’s fastest players, he has the wheels to put up massive numbers once he gets his feet wet.
Strength: The offense. It’s the Dana Holgorsen offense. The receivers will put up really, really big numbers, and if this offseason was any indication, Myers, Arlia and White will be just fine.
Weakness: Stedman Bailey, 114 catches for 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. Tavon Austin, 114 catches for 1,289 yards and 12 scores. J.D. Woods, 61 catches for 637 yards and four touchdowns. 41 of the team’s 44 touchdown catches came from those three players, and now all the new targets have a green quarterback throwing their way.
Outlook: The receiving corps was phenomenal last season and played a big part in making Geno Smith look fantastic. Yes, it’s the system, and yes, everything will eventually turn out to be fine, but it’ll still hurt to lose so much talent. Give it a year and then this group will be overwhelming, but with a new quarterback throwing their way, and needing time to figure out what they’re doing, the receivers will be a bit inconsistent even though the numbers will be terrific.
Unit Rating: 7

Offensive Line

The line was a major plus last season, but it has to replace all three starters in the interior with the biggest loss at center with Joe Madsen done. 6-6, 302-pound senior Pat Eger was one of the team’s star recruits in 2009, seeing time at right tackle as a sophomore before spending last year as a backup guard. Now he’s going to get the job at center where he’ll use his 6-6, 302-pound size and experience to be the quarterback up front. However, he could move back to guard if 6-4, 296-pound redshirt freshman Tyler Olosky, a fantastic prospect for somewhere in the interior at either guard or center. Once he eventually grabs a starting job, he won’t let it go.

Sophomore Marquis Lucas didn’t see much of the field last year, but now he’ll get a long look at the open left guard job. At 6-4 and 312 pounds he has good size and decent upside with the potential to be moved to right tackle if needed. 6-5, 305-pound junior Mark Glowinski is a workout warrior with the strength and power to blast away a bit at right guard. He needs time and seasoning, and while he’s not necessarily built for the right guard job, he should be able to wall off his man and do what the offense needs of him.

At 6-5 and 335 pounds, junior Quinton Spain is a massive blocker on the outside. Back at left tackle after starting every game last season, he’s versatile enough to play almost anywhere on the line and he grew into the team’s best and most reliable blocker. A mauler at times, he showed he could shine as a pass protector, too. Back on the other side is 6-7, 314-pound senior Curtis Feigt, a starter for most of the season at right tackle after moving over from the defensive side two years ago. While he’s not polished, he has a huge frame and is tough to get around. Very, very physical, he’s solid for the ground game.

Watch Out For … Stone Underwood. 6-6, 293-pound Marcell Lazard should be among the team’s best new linemen, with the bulk and upside to go anywhere, but 6-4, 285-pound JUCO transfer Stone Underwood should make the most immediate impact. While he’s a center, he might see time right away as a guard if he can’t provide a push for the spot in the middle. If he’s great, Eger will move to guard.
Strength: Quickness. It’s part of the design of the offense, but the linemen can all do a little bit of everything including getting out on the move. This is an athletic group that does what it must in pass protection. The tackles should be a plus.
Weakness: Consistency and the interior. The line has to replace both starting guards and Madsen at center, but no matter how the configuration works out, it has to be better for the ground game. Too often the offense sputtered and couldn’t move on the ground, and while there were bursts of big games here and there, there wasn’t enough to complement the passing attack on a consistent basis.
Outlook: The line wasn’t exactly the killer it was supposed to be, but it was good enough to make the offense fly. Consistency has been a huge problem under Holgorsen, and while the pass protection should be fine, and the tackles could be great, the line as a whole needs to be stronger and the depth has to rise up right away.
Unit Rating: 7
- 2013 West Virginia Preview | 2013 West Virginia Offense
- 2013 West Virginia Defense | 2013 West Virginia Depth Chart