Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Is WVU’s receiving corps too much for BYU?

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Shelton Gibson (1) gets past Youngstown State’s defenders for a touchdown in WVU’s 38-21 victory on Saturday, September 10, 2016. (Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Over the last several years, the West Virginia University football team has became known for its speedy wide receivers.

The Mountaineers have put Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kevin White and Mario Alford in the NFL. This season’s squad has animated talent in Shelton Gibson, Ka’Raun White, Daikiel Shorts and Jovon Durante.

The quartet has the ability to put points up on the scoreboard and strike fear in defenses. Through two games, WVU’s receiving corps is averaging 321 yards per game.

The Mountaineers exploited Youngstown State’s secondary in their last game. White had a 53-yard touchdown in the first half. Gibson caught a 54- and 57-yard pass for 171 total yards on six receptions.

WVU finished the game with five touchdowns on 389 yards.

So the question looming before Saturday’s game is whether Brigham Young University can stop agile Mountaineers’ receivers.

And WVU’s confidence is high.

“The corners, I don’t think can run with us so we got a few plays in mind that will work for us to get the ball,” White said.

Ka'Raun White (2) gets past Youngstown State's defenders for a touchdown in WVU's 38-21 victory on Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ka’Raun White (2) gets past Youngstown State’s defenders for a touchdown in WVU’s 38-21 victory on Saturday, September 10, 2016

The junior wide out believes the Mountaineers’ youth will benefit them over the Cougars’ elder experience.

“They look solid but they don’t look like they can keep up,” he said. “They are pretty old. I don’t think they can keep up with Shelton, me, or Daikiel or Jovon. So we will just have to wait and see.”

Senior center Tyler Orlosky thinks WVU’s speed will help wreak havoc on BYU’s secondary.

“We have fast guys on our team, and I think we can take advantage of that and their secondary,” he said. “I think we can beat them with speed.”

The Cougars have a tough defense. They have surrendered 714 yards and have six picks in three games.

BYU’s six interceptions rank fifth in the nation and they’re 78th in passing yards (238 per game) and 67th in pass efficiency.

The Cougars are best known for their physical and sometimes dirty style of defense.

But White thinks they just like to add fuel to the fire between plays.

“I don’t think they play too dirty,” he said. “They play between the whistles. I feel like No. 38 (linebacker Butch Pau’u) is the main one to watch for. He comes with them kill shots, so

Daikiel Shorts (6) comes down with the ball over YSU corner Kenny Bishop (7) in WVU's 38-21 victory on Saturday, September 10, 2016

Daikiel Shorts (6) comes down with the ball over YSU corner Kenny Bishop (7) in WVU’s 38-21 victory on Saturday, September 10, 2016

I’ll keep my eyes open.”

While BYU is a physical team, the Cougars have struggled to play good pass and run defense at the same time.

“They’re either one or the other,” Orlosky said. “They either do really good against the run or really good against the pass. Obviously, being the balanced offense that we are, I think we’re both really good at running man and passing the ball. Obviously, we’re a run first offense, so I think if we’re able to establish the run, I think our pass game will open up and make it so that both our pass game and run game will be good,”

The Mountaineers’ offensive line has the ability to give the running backs and receivers a chance to flourish against anyone in the country.

“I think we can go strength against strength against any team in the country,” Orlosky said. “I think up front especially. I think that’s our main part of our team; our backbone of our offense is our offensive line, so I think if it’s a challenge, I think we can beat that challenge.”

While WVU’s receiving corps has shown glimpses of brilliance, assistant coach Tyron Carrier believes the Mountaineers still have room for improvement.

“It’s almost there,” he said. “We still have a lot of bad habits that we’re trying to break. You’re not going to fix bad habits as fast, but they’re improving on it. They’re putting in effort, but they’re nowhere where they need to be right now.”

Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS

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