Jack of All Trades, Masters of None

Sometimes we're Texas Tech with 5 wideouts, sometimes we're channeling 1970 in a single receiver, double tight end, I set, sometimes, we run fully loaded shotgun, sometimes we run half the team in motion. But everytime, we suck.

Offensive identity? "Bread and butter" plays? Who needs that when you can just randomly pick plays from nearly every offensive philosophy ever invented.

I'd rather run 6 plays that work than 66 that don't.

We have no identity on offense, or any seemingly any idea what we want to do or how to attack. We don't establish a run game, and we don't run play action. WVU scored TD's on the first drive in something like 10 straight games under Rich Rod at one point, now we go 3 and out every first possession and pretty much every ensuing possession, too.

Do we not scout? Do we not have a gameplan? Do we not know what the other team is going to do and how to react? Do we not practice during the week and prepare? We're not imposing our will on the other team, we could at least take what they give us.

3rd and short is embarrassing. We change our whole offense anytime it is 3rd and short...but really, what is our offense? The first possession of the 2ndhalf we came out with a 5 wide receivers and go 3 and out on 3 pass plays, the next possession we go 3 and out on 3 run plays out in the power I.

And every single play out of the I formation has a wide reciever going in motion, which might be okay, if the wide recievers weren't Tito Gonzalez, Dorrell Jalloh, and Wes Lyons who run an average of a 4.8 40.

Then on perhaps the two most important plays of the game we run the option out of the I formation, literally for the first time since the Darren Studstill era. Against Rutgers we ran the same shotgun QB dive about 10 times on 3rd and 1, and we haven't seen it since. Then we run Jock Sanders out of the I 10 times against UConn. The against Cincy, we go with the option every third and short.

How about mixing things up? How about developing a base offense which you feel comfortable running in every situation instead of installing a new idea every single week?

And how about the offensive line? Sure they suck, but we're asking them to power block 60% of the time when they are built strictly for zone blocking. Speed and angles, not brute force. But we only ran the zone stretch play 3 or 4 times on Saturday and the shotgun triple option once.

We ask our O-line to power block, our receivers to forget blocking and run routes, and ask our QB to make multiple reads instead of taking off and running which leads to sacks.

Which leads me to Pat White. First off I would rather Pat White get hit by a smaller defender in the secondary than a defensive lineman in the pocket. Making him work through multiple reads has led to sacks he has never taken before and has eliminated his most dangerous quality of running and improvising.

But most importantly, Pat is not a tremendous passer, and we don't have good wide receivers. Jock Sanders is probably the only good route runner, and he can't even catch.

Jeff Mullen has installed an offense that plays to every player's weakness. Running Devine between the tackles almost exclusively. Requiring Pat White to sit in the pocket and pass. Making the O-line power block. Reducing the emphasis on blocking with our slow wide receivers.

Besides 3rd downs, the offense is killing itself on 1st down. Bill Stewart loves to pass on 1st down, so instead of picking up 4 or 5 yards on an option or zone play, we're throwing incompletions and facing 2nd and 10. How many times this year has Noel Devine had 3 zone reads in a row? Very, very few.

I wouldn't mind seeing a true bubble screen on 1st downs sometimes. When we actually run it the way we used to, it's normally good for 5 or 6 yards. The problem arises on all the flare passes we throw with no blockers or poor blockers (Arnett) on 3rd and 13.

And what ever happened to the basic running back screen with linemen leading the way? Seems like Steve Slaton and Noel Devine used to pile up a lot of yards when it was still in the play book.

Furthermore, sending on the kicking team, then calling a timeout and going for it on 4th and 4 from the 6 in the 4th quarter just about sums up Bill Stewart as head coach and the offensive struggles. The coaches have no idea what they want to do, how they want to attack, and change their minds constantly. There is no decisiveness on the sidelines. There is no offensive philosophy resonating with the players and coaches day in and day out.

The day we decided to take what the defense gave us and "diversify" the offense, instead of taking whatever we wanted was the day the offense was doomed.

If I was head coach, I would have handed the new offensive coordinator the ole Richard playbook and said, "Run our down field routes 4 more times a game than we used to, and don't change anything else. Here is 300 grand." Instead, Mullen and Stewart broke that which was not broken and didn't need to be fixed.

WVU hired a man that was the tight ends coach, a non-position at WVU, and special teams coordinator, at which he sucked (see kickoff return, or the punting debacle of 2006 with Scott Kozlowski crescendoing at Louisville). Before that, he was QB coach, but anyone who thinks that Rich Rodriguez wasn't the actual QB coach is smoking something.

(Also, something that has made me scratch my head many times over the last 8 years...why was Stewart the only assistant Rich kept on from Nehlen? Was it because Stew had only been with Nehlen 1 year, or that Stew could recruit Va. a little bit, or was it to be the "good cop" to Rod's "bad cop." I don't know the answer, but I always had the perception that Stewart was a buffoon and one of our worst assistants. I assume he became Associate head coach simply because of his age and tenure?)

Then Stewart hired the QB coach from WAKE FOREST. Yes, Field Goal University. A man that had never called plays. A man that had no experience in the power spread running game. A man that never watched film from a top 10 offense returning 9 starters. A man that still calls plays like he is scrolling through the playbook on Madden and keeps seeing new formations and plays and says, "I want to try that."

Same players. Different coaches. Different results. The players aren't playing well, but that falls on the men being paid 6 figures to have them prepared. Even if the independent variable in this whole "we suck" equation wasn't the coaching, which it is, the buck still stops with the head coach. The head coach is responsible for everything that happens in the program. It's his responsibility to prepare the team to win. The preparation is far more important than the play calling on gameday.

Rich Rod's play calling was anything but deceptive, but his team's were ready on Saturday and could run those 6 plays and demoralize the opposition.

However, Stewart cannot be fired. Though he does not deserve the job, firing him would lead to years of rebuilding from which we might not recover. (Unless Casteel was promoted to HC and retained the majority of the staff and brought in a proven offensive coordinator.) But, the offensive coordinator needs to be fired and replaced, as does the offensive line coach.

Since no one at WVU is ever going to perform a national search for a highly qualified coach, no matter what the ties to the University, Stewart might as well call the jobless Charlie Taffe and give him a shot.

As long as Stewart views WVU as mediocre non-top 25 program that cannot even attract a qualified offensive coordinator to a top 10 offense, WVU will never be a top 25 program, and certainly not, a top 10 program.

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