A big reason why the West Virginia football team won only four games last year was because of the inexperience on offense.
The quarterback, running back and nearly every wide receiver played their first season in Morgantown in 2013, whether it be through transfer or as a true freshman.
Perhaps a new and unfamiliar relationship between the skill players resulted in a down year. This is an offense that finished with 28 fewer passing touchdowns than 2012 and three less rushing.
“We have all your skill players back from last year: quarterback, running backs and wide receivers. When you have all those guys that are first year players, you can’t develop a rapport with (the offense),” said head coach Dana Holgorsen at Big 12 Media Days last week. “That’s why last year I focused more on the run game than in the past because it’s easier to (practice).”
Holgorsen has always been a pass happy, up-tempo offense kind of coach, so expect to see more passing this year with more experienced receivers.
A junior college transfer in 2013, junior Kevin White has emerged as the teams’ likely No. 1 receiver for the 2014 season.
In his debut season last year, White finished 35 catches to go along with 507 yards and a team best five receiving touchdowns. But he said he knows there’s still room to grow.
“If you look at guys like Stedman (Bailey) and Tavon (Austin) they made tremendous improvement from their first year to second year,” White said. “Even guys from other schools like Justin Blackmon and Dez Bryant, that second year, guys find a way to turn it up another level.”
White said a key to the team’s offense this year will be their ability to read defenses better.
“They’re really smart,” he said of Big 12 secondary players. “They just pick up on the little things.”
White will be joined by a returning corps that also includes Mario Alford, Daikel Shorts and Jordan Thompson.
Alford scored two touchdowns last season and compiled a team best 552 receiving yards. Alford is a senior this year, but enrolled at WVU after two years at Georgia Military College.
Daikiel Shorts led all receivers with 45 catches as a true freshman in 2013 with two touchdowns.
The Mountaineers already have a promising, young receiving core coming back this season, but also made sure to add a few more this past offseason.
Jacob McCrary, an inside or outside receiver at the next level, Lamar Parker and Ricky Rogers will also suit up in the blue and gold this fall.
McCrary, a four-star recruit, chose WVU over Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Florida State.
Parker is also a four-star recruit and was sought after by Florida State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
The WVU offense may still be relatively young, but one thing is for sure: second year quarterback Clint Trickett will have plenty of receivers for the 2014 season.