Posts Tagged ‘WVU’
5. Offense Benefits from Facing 3-4 Every Day
Dana Holgorsen’s offense can only get better now facing their own 3-4 every day in practice. The 3-4 is run by schools inside the Big 12, so it’ll only help the WVU offense if they see it as opposed to seeing the old 3-3-5 in practice. Yes there are scout teams during the season, but from spring practice when the team doesn’t use a scout team, the offense really was able to get accustom to facing a standard defense.
About facing the 3-4 everyday quarterback Geno Smith said, “It’s great because it is something a lot of those Big 12 teams do. It is kind of a trend there because of all the spread offenses. To see it (the 3-4) everyday will help us out as an offense because we get a chance to get actual live reps against that type of defensive style.”
4. The “EAT” Slogan Has Stood Tall Throughout Spring
Back when Coach Holgorsen and his staff held, the pre-spring media luncheon, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Joe DeForest had made it clear to the media that “EAT” (Effort-Attitude-Turnovers) would be an important part of his coaching style. Going along with implementing the 3-4 scheme, “EAT” was certainly evident throughout the spring game during the Blue’s (Defense) 43-34 win over the Gold (Offense).
The defense was able to force four turnovers, probably the most important part of the slogan. Cornerback Avery Williams recovered a fumble, Safey Matt Moro intercepted a Geno Smith pass, while cornerback Brodrick Jenkins and defensive end Will Clarke both picked off Paul Millard.
3. Pat Miller’s Injury Allowed For DB’s To Gain Depth
Maybe a blessing in disguise, Pat Miller going down in practice number eight allowed CB Coach Daron Roberts to build some at the cornerback position. Shining in the spring were corner backs Cecil Level who was the second leading tackler in the game along with Avery Williams who had the above mentioned fumble recovery. Level even laid a ridiculous on wide receiver JD Woods on a screen pass. Those two guys Level and Williams, didn’t play a ton last season. Going into the Big 12 the corners are going to have to face high tempo offenses that snap the ball 90-100 plays a game, so the defense has to be able to roll guys in and out. Those two guys in addition to Brodrick Jenkins and a healthy Pat Miller will be a luxury for WVU.
About the depth of the group, Jenkins said, “When he (Miller) went down, we were kind of slim. There were only two or three scholarship players and the rest were walk-ons. We had to let them take some snaps. I feel like Avery (Williams) and Cecil (Level) really stepped up.”
2. When the Offense was Able to Tempo, the Defense Struggled
In a game dominated by the defense, the first two drives the offense took it to the defense. The offense was able to tempo and move even faster than they did during the Orange Bowl. Highlighting the first drive, Geno Smith connected with Stedman Bailey for a long pass then a two yard touchdown pass and on the second drive Paul Millard led the troops while Shawne Alston capped the drive with a one yard scamper. But amidst the highlighted plays was the offense marching up the field at a very quick pace. Moving into the Big 12, that is the type of offenses the defense is going to see. So in order for the WVU defense to get better they have to be able to move and communicate when an offense tries to pick up the pace and get up and down the field.
1. The New Fan Favorite Will Be…
Jordan Thompson. This early enrollee freshman is just five-foot-seven and 159 pounds but bounces all around the field. He took a big hit in the Gold-Blue Game from Avery Williams that jarred a fumble, but he sprung right back up. According to Head Coach Dana Holgorsen, all Thompson’s teammates call him “Squirt.” The Katy High School standout wants to do big things here in Morgantown. He doesn’t want to redshirt, he wants to be on the field helping his team win. In the spring game he showed he could do that catching eight passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Thompson’s attitude and eagerness to succeed is clearly there.
Thompson said, “National Championship, go undefeated, win the Big 12. That’s always been my goal, National Championship.”
It’s only been a little more than a year, but things are quite different for the West Virginia football program and head coach Dana Holgorsen.
Last December, the Mountaineers suffered a 23-7 loss to North Carolina State in the Champs Sports Bowl. A day later, Holgorsen (who had been hired as WVU’s offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting a week earlier) helped lead Oklahoma State to a 36-10 win over Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.
It was one of WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck’s first major personnel decisions since he was hired in June of 2010, and with the final minutes ticking off the clock in the Mountaineers’ 70-33 Orange Bowl victory over Clemson, you could sense that he was extremely happy with the decision that he made.
“This is a very big stage in a BCS game and to be able to win the Big East to get here is just a validation for all the great work that Dana and our coaches and our players have put in this year,” he said.
“He’s done a marvelous job. Results matter in athletics and we won the Big East Conference, we’re in a bowl game scoring 70 points and that’s all very positive. It’s an indication of what he can do as we move forward into the Big 12.”
It was obvious this season that Holgorsen’s team had something different than the West Virginia teams of the last few seasons. The players brought it up multiple times throughout the season, and Luck echoed those sentiments at the end of the Orange Bowl.
The attitude for this team was completely different.
“What Dana’s brought to this team more than anything – even more than his offensive wizardry – is an edge,” Luck said. “That edge allowed us to win close games this year. This team believed in itself to win those games, and I think part of that is because it believed in its coach.”
And Luck said a win in the Orange Bowl, it doesn’t just help the notoriety of the West Virginia football program. It brings benefits to the entire University.
“It’s just like it was when we won the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. When you come in and play in a BCS and put out a performance like this and beat a quality opponent, it’s pretty special,” he said. “It helps across the board with recruiting, with fundraising and on the academic front. It gives us great exposure for the University.
“It’s all positive.”
I’m usually the type of person who counts down the days until the weekend, but there’s something different about this weekend that has me even more excited for it to get here than usual.
And no, it’s not because this little guy is going to be making a trip to the Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
Some of the nation’s top high school basketball players will be heading to Morgantown from all over the East coast this weekend to take part in the 2012 Mountaineer Shootout at University High School.
I will be covering it for the second year in a row, and after getting to see what it was like last season, I can’t wait to get back to cover it again starting Friday night. Last year, prestigious programs like Oak Hill Academy (VA) made the trip to Morgantown and players like Quinn Cook (freshman PG at Duke), Omar Calhoun (will be playing at UConn next season) and current West Virginia freshman point guard Gary Browne – among many more – took part in the festivities a year ago.
With schools like Huntington Prep (WV) and the Tilton School (NH) coming to town, this year’s Shootout will have no shortage of talent, that’s for sure.
So let’s take a look at the schedule and some of the top players who will be taking the court at UHS this weekend.
Friday, Jan. 20
4:30 p.m. – St. Mary’s Ryken (MD) vs. South Shore (NY)
6 p.m. – Bishop Kearney (NY) vs. Huntington Prep (WV)
8 p.m. – Tilton School (NH) vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph (OH)
9:30 p.m. – Withrow (OH) vs. Arlington Country Day (FL)
Saturday, Jan. 21
11 a.m. – Bishop Kearney (NY) vs. University (WV)
12:30 p.m. – St. Mary’s Ryken (MD) vs. Magnolia (WV)
6:30 p.m. – Withrow (OH) vs. Morgantown (WV)
8 – Villa Angela-St. Joseph (OH) vs. Huntington Prep (WV)
9:30 p.m. – Tilton School (NH) vs. Arlington Country Day (FL)
TOP FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH (all rankings come from ESPNU.com)
The highest-rated recruit of West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins’ next recruiting class, Macon will be in Morgantown this weekend.
His coach at Huntington, Rob Fulford, coached junior forward Deniz Kilicli (as well as Noah Cottrill) in high school at Mountain State Academy in Beckley, W.Va. and called Macon a mix of Kilicli and WVU senior Kevin Jones. At 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, Macon runs the floor well for a big guy and is an extremely athletic post player that the Mountaineers will be able to use next season when it loses Jones to graduation.
Macon has already signed his National Letter of Intent to play at WVU next year.
Huntington Prep (WV) F Andrew Wiggins (No. 1 prospect in 2014 class, considering Florida State & Kentucky)
It’s not very often that you get to say you’re going to get to watch the best player in the country.
But that’s exactly what fans might get to say when they watch Huntington Prep (WV) sophomore forward Andrew Wiggins play this weekend.
As I said, he’s ONLY A SOPHOMORE, but he has already been touted as the next big superstar in high school basketball and has been called “the Canadian LeBron James.”
That’s pretty high praise for a kid who will be turning 17 in about a month.
Wiggins has an incredibly smooth offensive game and can get to the rim just about whenever he wants to. When he gets into the paint, just wish defenders good luck trying to stop him.
I could go on, but I’ll just let the tape talk for me.
Tilton School (NH) C Nerlens Noel (No. 2 prospect in 2013 class, considering UConn, Georgetown, Kentucky, Kansas and Florida)
And Wiggins won’t be the only player in Morgantown this weekend ranked in the top five of his recruiting class.
The Tilton School (NH) will bring in an extremely talented team led by junior center Nerlens Noel. Standing at 6-foot-10 with a remarkable 7-foot-3 wingspan, Noel is one of the most feared shot blockers in the country and has the ability to alter any shot.
While he’s a game changer on the defensive end of the floor, his offensive game has gotten better since the AAU circuit and he’s extremely fun to watch play.
Tilton School (NH) G Wayne Selden (No. 10 prospect in 2014 class, considering WEST VIRGINIA, Kentucky, UConn, Pitt, Missouri)
Noel’s Tipton School teammate Wayne Selden is a player Mountaineer fans should definitely keep an eye on this weekend.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore guard has an offer from West Virginia and, although he’s just a sophomore, might be the most talented guard to take the floor at University High.
He can slash, get to the rim with ease and shoot it really well from the perimeter. He’d really be a good fit in a WVU uniform in a couple years for Bob Huggins. With Selden and Noel, the Tipton School’s two games this weekend (much like Huntington Prep’s) are definitely must-see basketball.
Arlington Country Day (FL) G Torian Graham (No. 38 prospect in 2012 class, considering North Carolina St., Xavier, Villanova, Baylor, Arizona)
Graham is the highest-rated recruit in the senior class who will be here this weekend and he plays alongside of fellow senior Jordan Goodman (considering Georgetown, Rutgers, West Virginia, Kansas State and Texas Tech).
He’s an athletic guard who has started to become more and more of a scorer as his high school career as gone on.
The form on his jumper is a little unorthodox but it works and for a smaller guard (6-foot-4), he can play above the rim.
OTHERS TO WATCH:
Arlington Country Day (FL): F Junior Etou
Bishop Kearney (NY): C Chinoso Obokoh
Huntington Prep (WV): G Javontae Hawkins, F Negus Webster-Chan, F Stefan Jankovic, G Xavier Rathan-Mayes
Morgantown (WV): F Nathan Adrian
South Shore (NY): F Shamiek Shephard, G Terrence Samuel, G Doudmy Saint Hilaire
Tilton School (NH): F Georges Niang, C Goodluck Okonoboh
Withrow (OH): F Devin Williams
One of the most puzzling things about this West Virginia team this season has been freshman forward Keaton Miles. A talented, highly touted recruit out of the prestigious Lincoln High School in Dallas, Miles was really the only freshman who received a lot of minutes who hadn’t started showing a lot of progress.
Of all the full-time starters in the nation (players who had started every game their team has played), Miles came into Saturday’s game against the Scarlet Knights averaging the second-fewest minutes per game in the country (13.7).
Miles passed that mark in the first half against Rutgers and played a career-high 29 minutes. He had his best game in a Mountaineer uniform, scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds while dishing out a team season-high seven assists (tying freshman PG Jabarie Hinds’ mark he set twice this season).
For what it’s worth: the Mountaineers are 9-1 when Miles plays more than 15 minutes in a game and they’ve won all three games Miles scored more than five points in.
After having a Plus/Minus (WVU’s points scored minus opponent’s points scored while Miles was on the floor) of -6 in West Virginia’s last three games, he finished +38 against the Scarlet Knights Saturday.
When he was in high school, I got to see about four or five of Miles’ games on TV and was extremely impressed. He was comfortable on offense and defense and made a big impact every game. That wasn’t the case so far this year.
Was it hard for Miles to stay positive when he was struggling? Yes, of course it was. It would be for any freshman.
But what got him to where he could have a game like he did Saturday, and what will help him continue that throughout the rest of the season?
“(Seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant) just tell me, ‘Keaton, you have to go out there and play. Just play your game. We know you can play. We’ve seen you play.’ Even when I was down and I didn’t believe in myself, they believed in me,” Miles said after the game.
- West Virginia forced 19 turnovers against Rutgers. The Mountaineers are now 12-0 when they force 15 or more turnovers in a game.
- With is “quiet” 24 points and 14 rebounds, Kevin Jones recorded his third-straight 20-point game. It was the first time in his career he was able to accomplish that feat.
- Jones had 12 career double-doubles entering this season, Saturday was his 12th of his senior year.
- More KJ stats! Jones is the only player in the nation who averages more than 20 points and more than 10 rebounds per game. West Virginia is 6-1 when he goes for at least 20 and 10 and the only game it lost was to No. 4 Baylor (15-0 this season).
- WVU is 7-1 when Truck Bryant makes more than three 3-pointers in a game.
- The Mountaineers are 9-1 at the Coliseum now. They’re beating opponents by an average of 15.3 points per game at home.
- West Virginia is 7-1 when it scores 80 or more points in a game (once again, the only loss was to Baylor).
- The win over Rutgers was WVU’s 6th win by 20 or more points of the season. The Mountaineers have won 46 games by at least 20 points since Bob Huggins became the school’s head coach.
- West Virginia’s next game is against Marshall in the Capital Classic. The series has been closer than you think. Although WVU has won eight against Marshall since 2000, the average margin of victory for the Mountaineers is just a little bit over three points (3.16) and the Herd is coming off a four-point win last season.
- As of Sunday night, the Mountaineers are No. 12 in the RPI and Marshall is No. 33, which makes the game a quality NCAA tournament resume win when the end of the season comes around.
Today is Ray Gaddis’ birthday.
The former WVU defender has been very influential in making the West Virginia men’s soccer program one of the best in the country over the course of the last four years and he was rewarded for all of that work by getting selected in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft yesterday by the Philadelphia Union.
When I talked to Ray Thursday night and he told me his birthday was Friday, that got me thinking, could there really be a better birthday present than that?
Let’s think about it for a second: He’s worked hard practically for his entire life in the game of soccer with the goal of, one day, getting to play at the professional level. And then a day before your birthday that dream comes true and all of that hard work pays off.
That’s definitely pretty awesome, I think.
It was a treat covering Ray when I got to cover the men’s soccer team a year ago. He was a great guy to talk to and was fantastic to watch. He was easily one of the most electrifying players I’ve gotten to cover in my time at The DA (in any sport, including football and basketball) and made a huge impact in just about every game he played in a Mountaineer uniform.
When I talked to LeBlanc, we spoke about the impact that Gaddis had on the men’s soccer program as a whole.
“Everybody kind of looked at him and saw what he was doing from the right back position to impact our game,” LeBlanc said.
“Outside of the physical characteristics of what he can do from an athletic perspective, it’s the character intangibles that really set him apart from the great majority of people out there. He’s a very focused young man who’s going to work his socks off every day.”
Congratulations to Ray for getting drafted, and being the highest draft pick in WVU men’s soccer history. That’s quite an accomplishment.
And quite a birthday present, too.