Recapping spring football and the 2022 Gold-Blue Game – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Whether it was Preston Fox making SC Top 10 worthy catches, Bryce Ford-Wheaton hauling in a deep pass in the end zone for a touchdown, or Will “Goose” Crowder connecting with Sam James for a 31-yard strike early on, there was plenty to take away from the in-game debut of Graham Harrell’s offense in the Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday.
It’s clear that when the Mountaineers begin their regular season schedule this fall, they’re going to take shots down the field.
“No question. We’re going to try to take a lot of shots and try to score a lot of points,” said wideout Kaden Prather.
The expectation of Harrell’s playbook possessing explosive plays isn’t anything new.
He showed WVU players that early on this spring. Prather said he and the receivers had a lot of deep balls to catch during their 15 practices.
Harrell has used his offensive scheme to great success at previous stops. His USC offenses led the Pac-12 Conference in passing yards per game in each of the past two seasons.
Some of the potential of his playbook with West Virginia was shown to fans in the final practice of the spring.
“We really wanted to come out and see how well we could throw the ball downfield, and give those guys the opportunity to make some plays downfield,” said Chad Scott, who was in charge of the victorious Gold team on Saturday.
Scott, the team’s running backs coach, described Harrell’s offense as “quarterback-friendly” and “player-friendly,” adding that the simplicity of the offense gives athletes the opportunity to make plays in one-on-one scenarios.
“You saw that, like Bryce Wheaton making a one-on-one play, which was great. You saw Sam James make a phenomenal catch over the shoulder in a one-on-one situation,” said Scott. “We wanted to come out and show the guys we would stretch the field, and it was great to see those guys make plays.”
While successfully taking shots downfield in the passing game could potentially limit chances in the running game, Scott already sees what the mentality of Harrell’s offense can do.
He described a 4th-and-2 situation during the Spring Game. True freshman Nicco Marchiol voiced his desire to go for it, and the rest of the offense followed suit.
“Those guys, in their mind, they feel invincible. Like they can do it all,” Scott said. “So when you get an offensive play-caller that has a similar mentality, coupled with the mentality that those guys have, they gravitate towards it. It’s huge.”
Scott pointed out that the passing game does open things up for his running game. It moves the linebackers and defensive backs around, which can create running lanes for his home run-hitting rushers.
For Prather, he says Harrell’s offense is more exciting than the playbook that was in front of the Mountaineers a season ago.
The young wideout, and everyone else in the wide receivers room, is looking to haul in as many of those deep passes as possible to keep the ball moving through the air, instead of on the ground.
West Virginia’s starting quarterback for the 2022 season has yet to be named. But one thing is certain: whoever it is will be looking downfield.