2007 West Virginia Preview - Offense

Posted Jun 29, 2007

Preview 2007 West Virginia Mountaineer Offense

West Virginia Mountaineers

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 West Virginia Preview | 2007 WVU Defense Preview
2007 WVU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN West Virginia Preview 

What you need to know: Unlike most schools that run the spread offense, West Virginia aims to open lanes for its prolific ground game, rarely putting the ball in the air more than 20 times a game.  The Mountaineers want the ball in the hands of its two junior Heisman candidates, quarterback Patrick White and running back Steve Slaton.  Along with receiver Darius Reynaud, they form the fastest offensive trio in America, and are threats for six with even a hint of daylight.  White is an underrated passer that rarely misses his target, but needs more help from a receiving corps that’s suspect after Reynaud.  Few schools rebuild on the offensive line better than West Virginia, but how will the unit react without its long-time quarterback Dan Mozes and long-time coach Rick Trickett?              

Returning Leaders
Passing: Pat White
118-179, 1,655 yds, 13 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Steve Slaton
248 carries, 1,744 yds, 16 TD
Receiving: Darius Reynaud
30 catches, 813 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Patrick White
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior C Mike Dent
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman G Eric Rodemoyer
Best pro prospect: Junior RB Steve Slaton
Top three all-star candidates: 1) White  2) Slaton  3) LT Ryan Stanchek
Strength of the offense: The backfield
Weakness of the offense: Proven receivers


Projected Starter: Junior Patrick White is back for his third year as the catalyst of the high-powered Mountaineer spread offense.  The reigning Big East Offensive Player of the Year raced for 1,219 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground a year ago, displaying game-breaking wheels whenever he found a sliver of daylight.  More than just a scrambler, White is also developing into a better pocket passer, making him downright lethal in play-action.  He threw for 1,655 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2006, and would have been No. 9 nationally in passing efficiency with one more attempt.    

Projected Top Reserves: The coaching staff has confidence in backup Jarrett Brown which is a good thing considering how often the fragile White absorbs hits.  In his only start of 2006, the 6-4 sophomore engineered a triple-overtime win over Rutgers, showing off his tremendous athleticism and strong arm.  

For now, senior Adam Bednarik’s ailing shoulder is allowing him to throw, which gives West Virginia a veteran on the depth chart, while allowing Nate Sowers to moonlight at wide receiver. 

Watch Out For…Brown.  White’s job is plenty safe until he graduates, however, Brown showed he’ll be ready when that time comes.  No longer an unproven rookie, don’t be shocked if Rich Rodriguez looks for openings to get him a little more seasoning in 2007.
Strength: Quick-strike ability.  No quarterback in the country frightens a defense or ignites an offense quicker than White, a 50-yard play waiting to happen.  As his touch and reads improve, he’ll become even tougher to corral.
Weakness: Durability.  The one player West Virginia can ill afford to lose, White, was dinged up for most of 2006, and has a slight frame that’s not constructed for punishment.
Outlook: The more comfortable White becomes in the pocket and in Rodriguez’s complex system, the more dangerous he’ll become on Saturdays.  He’ll electrify his way to another 1,000-yard season on the ground and a serious push for the Heisman Trophy.
Rating: 9.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Coupled with White, junior Steve Slaton gives West Virginia the most dynamic backfield tandem in America.  A consensus All-American and Heisman finalist a year ago, he’s a scoring machine with the jets to go the distance whenever he gets into space.  Slaton was second nationally with 162 all-purpose yards a game in 2006 and added pass-catcher to his repertoire, pulling in 27 receptions for 360 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He had off-season surgery on his right wrist, but will be fine by the start of the season. 

Senior Owen Schmitt is part fullback and part cult-hero around Morgantown.  He’s Slaton’s trusted lead blocker, but also has the balance and good feet to take handoffs and throw a change-up at opposing defenses.  Schmitt ran for 109 yards after Slaton was hurt in the Gator Bowl, and could take some snaps at tight end in certain formations this fall.

Projected Top Reserves: First in line to fill the all-important backup job to Slaton is junior Ed Collington who only had eight carries last year, but possesses a nice blend of power and speed, and began this year in the best shape of his career.  While he was bothered by injured ankles last season, he’ll be at full strength to begin 2007. 

Collington is getting pushed hard by redshirt freshman Eddie Davis, a shifty cutback runner who was in the mix last year before injuring his ankle and sitting out the season as a medical redshirt. 

Despite being the smallest of the three at 5-11 and 185 pounds, sophomore Jetavious Best can pack a punch and might be the fastest of the reserves.  Depending on need, both Davis and Best could get some work at slot receiver before September.

Watch Out For… Slaton to be in the slot a lot more this season.  Rich Rodriquez wants to find new ways to get his star in space, and motioning him put of the backfield is one very dangerous option.
Strength: Balance.  While Slaton is one of the premier homerun-hitting backs in the country, Schmitt is a slugger who can soften a defense and pick up the tough yards near the goal line and in short yardage.  They’re an odd couple, but it certainly works.
Weakness: Depth.  The Mountaineers are in dire need of backs that can give Slaton occasional breathers, but behind the franchise is a wave of question marks with little or no experience.
Outlook: Even without two of his best blockers, Dan Mozes and Jeremy Sheffey, Slaton will be Slaton, slicing through opposing defenses on a weekly basis.  However, unless a reliable reserve or two emerges, he could be gassed by the time November arrives.
Rating: 9.5


Projected Starters: Senior Darius Reynaud is back in the slot as West Virginia’s most dangerous and experienced pass receiver.  He’s not very big, but has the track speed to take short hitches and run for a long time.  Last year, he led the Mountaineers with 39 receptions for 520 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while averaging almost 16 yards on 14 carries, a testament to his big-play potential. 

Juniors Tito Gonzalez and Dorrell Jalloh are two of last year’s lettermen that’ll be counted on to replace the production of Brandon Myles.  At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Gonzalez has the size West Virginia likes in its receivers and one big 57-yard touchdown reception in the Gator Bowl to catapult his career.  Now he needs to improve his route-running to become a bigger factor in this offense.  Jalloh is a dependable, experienced receiver with good hands and solid fundamentals.  Although not a game-breaker, in an offense that leans so heavily on the run, his perimeter blocking makes him too valuable to keep off the field. 

Converted quarterback Nate Sowers is another example of how few schools are better than West Virginia at recruiting talent and fitting it into the right slot.  The sophomore is such a terrific athlete that Mountaineer coaches have decided to make him a receiver, provided the defense doesn’t get him first. 

When West Virginia uses a tight end, former defensive lineman Michael Villagrana will be back to provide the equivalent of a sixth offensive lineman in the running game.

Projected Top Reserves: Wes Lyons is still rough around the edges as a receiver, but at 6-8, the rangy sophomore has the size and wingspan to be, at worst, a very dangerous option for Patrick White on jump balls. 

After catching five balls for 72 yards in 2006, shifty junior Jeremy Bruce will once again back up Reynaud in the slot. 

Following a redshirt season a year ago, coaches are hoping freshman John Maddox has gotten bigger, stronger and faster so that his raw ability can rise to the surface.        

Watch Out For…newcomer Alric Arnett.  Other than when Chris Henry was a Mountaineer, West Virginia has lacked an outside receiver that could stretch the field and open up underneath routes for the slot guys.  Arnett, a Butler (Kan.) Community College transfer, has the wheels to address that glaring need.
Strength: Blocking.  This young group of Mountaineer receivers has a lot to prove as pass catchers, but they all know that if you can’t block downfield, you’re a liability in a run-first offense.
Weakness: Proven talent.  Reynaud is a real nice complement in the slot, but ideally not the kind of receiver that a corps is built around.  Behind him is a group of untested kids, none of whom has ever caught more than seven balls in a season.
Outlook: West Virginia would like to step up its passing attack in 2007, but that won’t happen unless at least a couple of reliable targets emerge out of a mass of uncertainty.  Without question, this is the Mountaineers’ biggest area of concern heading into the season.
Rating: 6

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: This year’s anchor of the offensive line will be junior left tackle Ryan Stanchek, a versatile lineman who earned all-Big East honors in his first season after switching from guard in last year’s opener.  A mentally and physically tough player with a non-stop motor, he’ll only get better as he learns the nuances of playing tackle for a second straight year. 

The other tackle is junior Jake Figner, who started all 13 games in 2006, addressing a problem area before the season began.  Surprisingly quick at 6-5 and 300 pounds, he’s able to get to the next level in a hurry and destroy smaller linebackers and defensive backs. 

There’s a gaping hole at the pivot where Rimington Award winner Dan Mozes used to dominate that’ll be filled by last year’s understudy, Mike Dent.  A one-time tight end and defensive end, the junior is athletic, technically sound and has some of the best feet of any Mountaineer lineman.  If he can physically handle the position at 285 pounds, the potential exists for Dent to be a fixture on this line for the next two seasons. 

The guard positions will be manned by sophomore Greg Isdaner and redshirt freshman Eric Rodemoyer.  A big, physical guard, Isdaner responded to being pressed into action last September by earning Freshman All-America honors.  He got pulled at times last year for missed assignments, needing to tighten up his consistency in year two as a starter.  Rodemoyer nudged past junior John Bradshaw in the spring in a battle that’ll continue in August.  One of the most improved linemen during the off-season, he’s 6-4 and 300 pounds with nimble feet and good athletic ability.

Projected Top Reserves: When Isdaner got the hook last year, it was Bradshaw that took his place.  Now that Jeremy Sheffey has graduated, he looked to be closing in on a starting assignment on the right side until Rodemoyer stepped up his game.  The 6-6, 290-pounder Bradshaw will be a guard in 2007, but is versatile enough to play any of the five positions on the Mountaineer line. 

If not the center of the present, redshirt freshman Eric Jobe will absolutely be the center of the future for the Mountaineers.  A heady leader with crisp technique, he’ll learn behind Dent in 2007. 

At 6-7, sophomore Jon Walko has the size to be the first tackle off the bench, but needs to become more physical and add some bulk to his frame. 

Sophomore Frank Carduff has a real bright future in Morgantown.  He fits the mold of the athletic, intelligent Mountaineer lineman and can play multiple positions.         

Watch Out For… junior Selvish Capers.  The Mountaineers have flourished at molding imports from other positions into top linemen, which bodes well for Capers, a 6-6, 275-pound specimen making the switch from tight end to tackle.  His athleticism for a big man is first-rate, but now he has to show he can get physical and learn an entirely new role.
Strength: Run blocking.  Few lines in America do a better job of opening holes in a variety of ways than the Mountaineers.  This is an athletic group that sometimes foregoes size and strength for quickness, smarts and technique.  It’s not for every program, but it sure works in Morgantown.
Weakness: Proven depth.  The first line is solid, but the second-stringers have a lot to prove and almost no experience to fall back on.  Although Bradshaw, Jobe and Carduff have loads of potential, you don’t want them pressed into action before their ready to contribute.  
Outlook: After losing Mozes, Sheffey and zone-blocking guru Rick Trickett, the line will be in transition, but not for very long.  The Mountaineers perennially do a bang-up job of plugging in new starters here, and as this group spends more time playing together, it’ll once again evolve into one of the Big East’s best units.
Rating: 8


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2007 West Virginia Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 29, 2007
2007 West Virginia Preview - Defense
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2007 West Virginia Preview - Depth Chart
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