West Virginia Preview 2006 - Offense
West Virginia Mountaineers
Posted Aug 1, 2006

West Virginia Mountaineers Preview 2006 - WV Offense

What you need to know ... Outside of an injury to quarterback Pat White, there's no reason the offense should produce any fewer than the 389 yards and 32 points per game it came up with last season. The attack got better as the year went on, and now it should hum on all cylinders with White a better passer and an experienced receiving corps to work with, one of the nation's best groups of running backs, and a line that'll be more than fine even with the loss of both starting tackles. Getting more out of the passing game will be the top priority after finishing 117th in the nation last year. This offense isn't going to turn it over and should be ultra-efficient.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Pat White
65-114, 828 yds, 8 TD, 5 INT
Rushing: Steve Slaton
205 carries, 1,128 yds, 17 TD
Receiving: Brandon Myles
34 catches, 536 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Steve Slaton
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior OT Damien Crissey
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Jake Figner
Best pro prospect: Senior C Dan Mozes
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Slaton, 2) QB Pat White, 3) Mozes
Strength of the offense: Running game, backfield
Weakness of the offense:
Proven passing game

This would've been a fantastic situation if Adam Bednarik didn't have problems with an injured shoulder. Now the starter at the beginning of last year is likely out for the year meaning Pat White has to be durable despite all the shots he takes as a runner. His passing appears to have gotten better, but he's most dangerous when he's on the move. Redshirt freshmen Jarrett Brown and Nate Sowers will battle for the number two job. Brown has more upside, but Sowers might be more ready to step in right away.
The key to the unit: Pat White has to stay healthy and push some passes downfield more. He's efficient, but he has to hit on more big plays.
Quarterback Rating: 8

Projected Starter
- Pat White, Soph. - 65-114, 57%, 828 yds, 8 TD, 5 INT, 131 carries, 952 yds, 7.3 ypc, 7 TD
White is one of the premier running quarterbacks in college football, and now that he knows what he's doing, he should be a stronger passer. He hasn't had to throw much with all the success of the ground game. He had a great Sugar Bowl performance completing 11 of 14 passes, but was erratic throughout the season and didn't make enough secondaries pay for cheating up against the run. No longer a green freshman, he'll be more of a leader and will take more chances with his throws with more confidence in what he's doing. Of course, he'll make his biggest plays on the move. As a runner, he tore off four 100-yard games highlighted by a 220-yard rushing day against Pitt.

Top Backups
- Jarrett Brown, RFr.
The 6-3, 220-pound redshirt freshman has a next-level arm with good mobility. Being given every chance at the number two job, he has the skills, athleticism, and passing presence to be a big-time producer in this offense.
- Nate Sowers, RFr.
Sowers was trained in high school in a form of the offense West Virginia runs. He's a good-sized passer who runs extremely well. Likely the third man in the mix, he'll be a top scout teamer.
- Adam Bednarik, Jr. - 55-75, 73%, 532 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT, 56 carries, 170 yds, 3 ypc, 1 TD
The starter going into last year, Bednarik is a strong passer with a great arm and enough mobility to tear off yards here and there. Unfortunately, he can't stay healthy. He'll likely miss the season after undergoing surgery for a banged up shoulder. He also had concussion, knee and foot problems last year.

Running Backs
The emergence of Steve Slaton out of nowhere made a good running back situation special. Jason Colson is a solid number two back who could be an All-Big East runner if he turned into the number one man. Owen Schmitt grew into one of the nation's best fullback, and there are speedy options waiting in the wings. Quarterback Pat White will be a part of the rushing total, but this group of runners could combine for 2,500 yards on their own.
The key to the unit: There could stand to be a bit more from the running backs in the passing game. They can all catch, and now they need to get the ball in their hands when on the move.
Running Back Rating: 10

Projected Starters
- Steve Slaton, Soph. - 205 carries, 1,128 yds, 5.5 ypc, 17 TD, 12 catches, 95 yds, 7.9 ypc, 2 TD
Easily the shocker of the 2005 season, the new West Virginia rushing star was supposed to be top recruit Jason Gwaltney. That changed in a hurry as Slaton took over in the third game of the year and was unstoppable the rest of the way averaging 136 yards per game after seeing time against Virginia Tech. He got on the national map with a five touchdown game in the win over Louisville, but it was his 204-yard, three touchdown Sugar Bowl against Georgia that got everyone talking. He runs far harder than his 5-10, 190-pound size, and there are few better home run hitters.

- Fullback Owen Schmitt, Jr. - 48 carries, 380 yds, 7.9 ypc, 2 TD, 8 carries, 76 yds, 9.5 ypc
One of the nation's best all-around fullbacks, the 6-3, 250-pound junior is a punishing blocker and a strong runner with a nice burst once he sees the hole. How many big fullbacks can averaged 7.9 yards per carry and deliver key block after key block? There aren't many who work harder than the former walk-on.

Top Backups
- Jason Colson, Sr. - 43 carries, 120 yds, 2.8 ypc, 1 TD
Colson has the speed and size to be a workhorse back and put up All-Big East numbers, but he'll be stuck behind all the young talent in the rotation. He struggled with injured throughout last year hurt with a sprained knee, and then Steve Slaton took over. At 225 pounds, he provides some big pop between the tackles and has the quickness to bounce runs outside.
- Jason Gwaltney, Soph. - 45 carries, 186 yds, 4.1 ypc, 3 TD, 4 catches, 15 yds
With the emergence of Steve Slaton and the writing on the wall, 2005's top recruit, who ran for 2,882 yards and scored 45 touchdowns, as a senior in high school, left the program but is thinking about returning. However, his biggest problem isn't Slaton, it's going to class barley staying eligible after transferring to Nassau Community College in New York. There's no questioning his talent and will be a big factor if he returns and can get back in the team's good graces.
- Fullback Sam Morrone, Soph.
Part tight end and part fullback, the 6-2, 240-pound sophomore will be a key backup behind Owen Schmitt. While he likely won't see many carries early on, he'll see some passes and should be a decent blocker.

There's talent here to get the passing game going if needed. The Mountaineer receivers have more roles to play than most teams' targets with their blocking skills needed as much as their hands. Darius Reynaud and Brandon Myles form a good enough 1-2 punch to keep defenses from teeing off on the running game, while complementary targets like Dorrell Jallon and Jeremy Bruce should produce some big plays when they get a chance. 
The key to the unit: Make more big plays when they get a chance. The West Virginia receivers see too much single coverage to only average 11.5 yards per catch.
Receiver Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Darius Reynaud, Jr. - 30 catches, 297 yds, 9.9 ypc, 5 TD, 9 carries, 86 yds, 1 TD
The team's second leading receiver last season became steadier as the season went on and was also used as a runner. He scored three touchdowns in his final four games, but he has yet to show off his amazing speed. With his home-run hitting potential, the passing game has to use hum deep.

- Brandon Myles, Sr. - 34 catches, 536 yds, 15.8 ypc, 3 TD
The 6-3, 190-pound senior led the team in receiving last season with steady production throughout the season. He has the route running ability and speed to do even more if the Mountaineers start throwing it more. A nice downfield blocker, he's a smart overall receiver who knows his role.

- Dorrell Jalloh, Soph. - 3 catches, 66 yds, 22 ypc, 1 TD
Considered one of the team's rising offensive stars, Jalloh is a fantastic blocker with great hands. He didn't get used much last year with his one touchdown catch coming on a 46-yard play against Virginia Tech, but he'll play a much bigger role this season after a fantastic spring.

- Jeremy Bruce, Soph. - 3 catches, 26 yds, 8.7 ypc
Used as the team's slot receiver, the small, quick Bruce will see also see a few carries. He's one of the team's faster players and should be deadly when he gets the ball in his hands on the move.

- Tight end Michael Villagrana, Jr. - 1 catch, 2 yds, 1 TD
The former defensive lineman is still learning his way at tight end. He's a tough blocker who caught one pass last season for a touchdown. With his all-around skills, he should grow into the new starting role as the season goes on.

Top Backups
- Rayshawn Bolden, Sr. - 3 catches, 76 yds, 25.3 ypc
The 6-5, 220-pound senior has always have the tools to become a dangerous playmaker, but it hasn't happened with only five career catches. He'll have to get back in the mix this fall after missing spring ball after suffering a broken foot in the Sugar. Bowl. He'll start out behind Brandon Myles.
Brandon Barrett, Jr.
Is this the year for the former West Virginia high school player of the year finally shows off his stuff? He has tremendous speed and good size, but he hasn't been able to put it all together yet.
- Tight end
Adam Serena , Sr.
Built more like a big wide receiver than a bruising tight end, the 6-3, 220-pound Serena is a good technical blocker, but he hasn't been able to grow into a part of the offense. He'll start out behind Michael Villagrana and should finally see a few passes come his way.

Offensive Linemen
There might not be a more athletic line on a top 25 team in America. These guys aren't going to blow anyone off the ball, but they're amazing for the Mountaineer running game because of their quickness, pulling ability, and smarts; they're technicians. Center Dan Mozes is one of the nation's best linemen and should be the favorite for the Rimington Award. The interior will be a rock with Mozes and guards Ryan Stancheck and Jeremy Sheffey, but the tackles will be a bit of a concern early on needing to replace Garin Justice and Travis Garrett.

The key to the unit: New starting tackles Damien Crissey and Jake Figner have to be as good as last year's all-stars.
Offensive Line Rating: 9

Projected Starters
- OT Damien Crissey, Sr.
Crissey has been around for a while, but he hasn't been able to see too much time outside of the scout team because of all the veteran tackles ahead of him over the last few years. The 6-4, 280-pound senior should be great at left tackle with the speed to spring big plays down field.
- OG Ryan Stanchek, Soph.
The 280-pound Stanchek turned into one of the team's top blockers last season earning freshman All-America honors after stepping into the starting lineup in the fourth game against Virginia Tech. He showed a nice punch in the running game, and now should be even better after hitting the weights hard.
- C Dan Mozes, Sr.
One of the nation's best centers, the 290-pound veteran is back in the middle for his fourth straight season. He's the perfect leader for the line with the experience of seeing a bit of time at guard along with his duties at center. He has been nicked up from time to time with a shoulder problem a few years ago and an ankle issue for a game last season, but he's hardly injury prone. His motor is always running.
- OG Jeremy Sheffey, Sr.
The 290-pound guard is one of the team's best linemen on the move. The long-time starter knows exactly what he's doing at right guard improving steadily year after year since moving over from the defensive line early on. It'll be a shock if he's not a first team All-Big East star.
- OT Jake Figner, Soph.
An improving all-around blocker, the 6-5, 290-pound sophomore should be a fixture on the right side for the next three years. He's going to take a little time before he's dominant, but he's way too quick and is too athletic not to grow into a perfect fit.

Top Backups
- OG John Bradshaw, Soph.
One of the line's biggest players at 295 pounds, Bradshaw will start out behind Jeremy Sheffey at right guard but could play just about anywhere. He's athletic enough to play either tackle spot and strong enough to step in and start in the middle if needed.

- C Mike Dent, Soph.
The 275-pound sophomore will be groomed to be next year's starting center. He could use a little more time in the weight room, but there's no problem with his quickness or his potential to run the offense. He's a smart former defensive end who's physical, and is a lot more polished than most converted defensive players.

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