Depth at Wide Receiver Continues to Plague WVU
WVU’s lack of depth at wide receiver is hurting the Mountaineers in big games.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Since day one of camp, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen has preached about the Mountaineers lack of depth at wide receiver and it has been detrimental at times.
WVU’s talented quartet of David Sills, Gary Jennings Jr., Ka’Raun White and Marcus Simms has combined for 1,617 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. While the other wide outs have just 204 yards and one touchdown, which mostly came in big wins over East Carolina and Delaware State.
And Holgorsen isn’t happy with the lack of production from the others.
“How many more times do I have to continue to complain about it? Depth is still an issue,” he said. “It’s an issue at receiver. It’s an issue at o-line. I think we have some good backs that for whatever reason aren’t doing what we need them to do. It was addressed after the game. It needs to happen now. To answer your question, it needs to happen now. It needed to happen two months ago, so we are going to focus on a lot of those second team guys. Whatever is preventing them from helping us win, we are addressing it now.”
Having only four receivers that are ready to play has taken a toll on the Mountaineers late in some big games.
“When we get deep into these games, then guys get tired,” receivers coach Tyron Carrier said. “We need the younger guys to start stepping up and show us who they are.”
In losses to both Virginia Tech and TCU, it was evident guys were tired. However, WVU didn’t trust anyone enough to put the backups in.
If the Mountaineers hope to win games against Top 25 opponents and have a shot at the Big 12 title, the youth is going to need to contribute more.
What is plaguing some of the younger receivers from emerging?
White believes it’s all in their heads.
“I think they’re just making some mental mistakes sometimes in practice and that’s leading to (redshirt junior quarterback) Will (Grier) not trusting them when it’s time for game time,” he said. “So, as long as they’re doing what they have to do in practice and limiting their mental mistakes, then I think they’ll be alright come game time. They’ve just got to keep working during practice, on making plays and making the coaches and quarterback trust them a little more.”
One freshman that WVU fans have seen a few times this season was Reggie Roberson. He has one touchdown and 30 receiving yards in the limited action he has seen.
“Reggie is doing pretty good,” White said. “He’s aggressive, he’s fast and he understands the game. He just has to get some reps under his belt and he’ll be fine.”
Outside of Roberson, the Mountaineers don’t have many other receivers even considered game ready.
“Reggie Roberson Jr. is playing hard,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “He really is. That is something with the continuity with Will. That’s something that we’ve got to keep improving on, but I feel comfortable putting Reggie in the game as an outside receiver and going back-and-forth with him. That’s one guy, to me, that stands out the most but, overall, we can find more depth because Ka’Raun, Sills and Gary are playing 90 plays a game, including special teams. They are awesome kids and I know they can handle it but throughout the course of a long season that completely wears down the athletes.”
WVU still has a viable chance to play in the Big 12 Championship but will need to solve the issue at hand.
At the beginning of the season, Holgorsen mentioned getting Kennedy McKoy reps at wide receiver.
Whatever the answer is the Mountaineers need to fix it fast. Any of the remaining teams on the schedule are capable of beating WVU.
Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS