Offensive Line Must Improve
MORGANTOWN — Heading into West Virginia’s (1-1) final non-conference game of the 2017 campaign against FCS member Delaware State (0-2), veteran offensive line coach Joe Wickline isn’t ready to give his unit a grade.
“I don’t know if I will give them a grade,” Wickline said. “They had great attitudes and they played hard against Virginia Tech. They learned a lot. This last week we did what we had to do.
“Overall, they are fighting the good fight. But, we are still a work-in-progress and we are on schedule.”
A feeling that was echoed by the unit’s only senior performer, Kyle Bosch.
“You want to be your biggest critic,” the former University of Michigan player said. “It’s tough going in at halftime with that lead (49-3). You have that dead time and then you have to get recharged for the second half.
“We didn’t do a good job after the half and I think that’s why we (the offensive line) were disappointed. We left a lot of yards out there that we can’t leave when we open Big 12 play.”
And, with a road trip to Manhattan, Kansas, to take on the Jayhawks looming seven days away following Saturday’s contest, the senior leader of the offensive front wants to see improved play — and attitude — when WVU entertains Delaware State at noon.
“I’d say, if I had to give us a grade right now, it’d be a C-minus,” Bosch said. “We have guys playing hard and the communication has been better than you would have thought considering we are so young.
“But, saying that, we don’t want to go into Saturday’s game and not get better. The ideal scenario for us would be to go out and score every time we have the ball and allow the coaches to bring in the twos early so that they can get more experience.
“However, if they need me to play 100 snaps, I’m ready for it.”
That should not be the case against a Hornets defense which is surrendering 25 points and nearly 500 yards of total offense per game and has yet to face an offense with the weapons they will see wearing the Old Gold and Blue on Saturday.
“I think you could safely say that West Virginia will be the best team we’ve face to date,” Delaware state coach Kenny Carter said. “Probably the best we will face this year.”
University of Florida transfer Will Grier is already on a record-setting pace having passed for 723 yards and eight touchdowns (50 of 78) in two games while backup Chris Chugunov got a chance to show his skills in the final 25 minutes against ECU, completing 5 of 9 attempts for 51 yards.
The receiving corps is paced by the trio of Gary Jennings Jr., David Sills V and Ka’Raun White. Jennings has 17 catches for 235 yards and one touchdown while Sills has one less reception, but leads the team in yardage (247) and touchdowns (5).
Those performances have allowed White to face more man coverage and the senior showed why that will be a mistake for future opponents as he has hauled in eight passes for 123 yards and a score.
Add sophomore Marcus Simms, who was suspended for the Tech contest, into the mix and it is easy to understand why Grier is off to the start he is enjoying.
Then you add in a running attack which includes senior Justin Crawford (28-224, two TDs), Kennedy McKoy (19-99, one TD), Martell Pettaway (8-31) and freshman Tevin Bush (10-24) and it is easy to understand why DSU’s Carter is concerned about his defense.
“They have so many weapons,” Carter said. “You can be playing well on defense and they still might put 70 (points) up on you.”
Of course that can’t happen unless the ‘beef up front’ continues to improve.
“It’s really not about (DSU),” Wickline said. “It’s about us. Our goal is the same no matter who we play — we want to get better.”
∫ Saturday’s game against DSU will be televised by AT&T Sports Network with Rob King providing the play-by-play and former WVU quarterback Marc Bulger serving as the analyst.
∫ Another former WVU athlete, basketball standout Meg Bulger, will be on the sideline.