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WVU Co-OC and O-Line Coach Matt Moore Looking for Answers



WVU co-oc and o-line coach Matt Moore pacing the sidelines at Mountaineer Field during the season-opener versus James Madison. (Photo by Jonathan Stanley)

It’s clear West Virginia has no running game through the first two games, combining for 64 yards on the ground to begin the season. After the first game against James Madison, WVU head coach Neal Brown said they went into it with a “vanilla” run scheme to see what they had upfront. He later followed it up with that they could use “window dressing” to get the run game going.

Brown did that this past weekend at Missouri, however, despite doing some jet sweeps, variations of a quick option and using motion to put versatile receiver Tevin Bush in the backfield they had little success.

“Until we win one on one blocks until we win one on one coverage and until we break tackles, we’re going to struggle, explained Brown. “Football is a pretty easy number game. You got one handing it off and one running it. So, you got nine on 11 and so you got to win.”

The Mountaineers opened their season against one of the best FCS programs in the country, coming into the season ranked second. Then this past weekend, they lined up across an SEC defensive line in Missouri. Even with the jump in talent, there didn’t look to be much progress.

“We felt like we had gotten better through the week, then we come out and lay another egg,” said co-offensive coordinator and 0-line coach Matt Moore. “I just went in the locker room and told them right then, my guys are my guys. We just got to keep working. We got to be on the same page. We got to make sure we’re getting hats on hats and we got to get movement.”

“I haven’t watched the film, I just know it’s bad, continued Moore. “I don’t know exactly what it was, but it was bad. Whether it was miscommunication, whether it was guys trying too hard and falling down, I don’t know. At this point, you just got to keep working. You gotta work tomorrow, go to work when we get home tonight and just keep grinding. We’ll get to that point but it’s never easy getting there.”

West Virginia made some adjustments going into the game moving Chase Behrndt back to center after moving him to guard midway through fall camp and placing guard Josh Sills at center to try and get more production.

“We just felt like we didn’t get everything out of Josh that we thought we could get out of him at center,” explained Moore. “At center you got a guy right on you right now and using his strength and his size we weren’t getting the movement we need at center. Chase had gotten more consistent with his snaps, that was my biggest worry. So, we switched Josh back at guard hoping we could get more movement. Trying to get answers. You can’t just keep doing the same thing and expect something different to happen. You gotta change things up. I need some of these other guys to step up and show that they’re ready to play, so we can get them in the game, and we can try and see if we have different lineups that make us better. Gotta keep working.”

“I know it’s frustrating, continued Moore. “It’s frustrating for us, I know it’s really frustrating for our fans. That’s what we gotta do, we just got to keep trying to find the right mixture and continue to work details and being more physical… All I can do is believe in them and keep working and just keep believing in my guys. Just keep working and coaching them in details and coaching them on effort. We’re going to continually get better as the year goes. A day like today, that’s a tough day for everybody.”

Neal Brown has been straightforward since day one and he’s continuously said throughout spring and fall camp that the running game was not where it needed to be. Now that may have fallen on deaf ears on fans and media alike. We wrote it off because of the deep running back room and with veterans, Colton McKivitz and Josh Sills anchoring the line, and Kelby Wickline showed he could compete at this level. What we did know is that there was no depth and that it was potentially going to be a problem.

“I think it’s an indication that the guys behind them got to get better,” stated Brown. “Because those five didn’t necessarily play great but nobody behind them as shown they’re ready to play. That’s an issue we have. Really been exposed two weeks in a row on it. So, we got to get those guys better. It’s what it is. We have them, we got to get them better. We got to a lot better from a detail standpoint. We don’t; do a very good job with our eyes. Pre-snap movement has killed us in both games. We just got to get better. I think it’s an indicator that the guys behind them haven’t done enough in practice that they’re ready to play.”

I’m not saying, nor is coach Brown saying that the players I mentioned are bad players. There have been shifts along the line since the first day this staff took over.

Behrndt was a guard before moving to center. Sills went from right guard to center back to guard. Mckivitz went from right tackle to left. Wickline shifted to right tackle from left and Mike Brown is playing his first full year of football.

They haven’t shown continuity yet. Also, a new system with fluctuation could why they’re not firing off the ball.

It’s going to take a lot of reps together and knowing where to be without thinking where they’re supposed to be before they show any push up front.

How long will it take? Well, that’s the million-dollar question. It doesn’t get any easier as NC State comes to Morgantown this Saturday.

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