MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The WVU football offense has a new man in charge.
Chad Scott, a veteran assistant on head coach Neal Brown’s staff, was elevated to offensive coordinator in January and will continue to oversee the running back room as he’s done for the previous four seasons.
The title change gives the assistant coach more responsibilities. As he sees it, one of the most notable of his added responsibilities is to see the offense as a whole.
“I’m so used to being tunnel-visioned toward those running backs and those linebackers, and running around. It’s just being able to see the whole picture and see everything that’s going on,” Scott said Tuesday. “That’s going to be the biggest adjustment, being able to see the whole picture, see what’s going on.”
Aside from seeing the whole picture of the offense, Scott’s in-game line of sight may change as well. He has coached from the sideline ever since arriving at West Virginia.
However, now tasked with overseeing the entire unit, Scott could be seated in the coach’s box high above the gridiron on gameday.
“I don’t know, that’s tough. I don’t know,” Scott said. “That’s something we’re kind of working towards, but that’s going to be tough for me. That’s a big adjustment, too. I got to be in it.”
Being face-to-face and in the moment with his players is one of the things Scott appreciates the most about coaching on the field. It’s also one of the things he will miss most if it’s determined he’ll coach from upstairs during the regular season.
Asked if he has a preference, Scott said, “I need to be on the field.”
When the fifth-year assistant was promoted to offensive coordinator in January, Brown praised Scott’s ability to connect and build relationships with players.
“I feel like one of my best abilities is being able to connect with the guys and bring out the best in them,” said Scott. “We’ve done a phenomenal job this offseason of establishing chemistry and building the bond amongst everybody.”
The bond between Scott and those in the running backs room is noticeably strong. Multiple times over the years, Gold and Blue Nation’s cameras have captured Scott running down the sidelines at full speed, keeping pace with a WVU running back or receiver who has possession of the football and is headed toward the end zone.
Attempting to see the whole picture, Scott didn’t do that when the opportunity arose during the Mountaineers’ first official spring practice on Tuesday. The players noticed.
“It felt kind of weird today. One of the players asked me today, ‘Coach, Jaylen [Anderson] broke that run. I’m used to seeing you running next to him. That was kind of weird. I ain’t seen you down there with him,'” said Scott, who added he already has a plan for when he can’t stop himself from running down the sideline. “I told the guys today, ‘If I run down that field, you all got to keep it where we’re going. So you all can keep signaling the plays.’ That’s going to be the biggest adjustment for me.”
In 2022, Scott oversaw a running back room that averaged 171.5 yards per game, despite dealing with injuries throughout the second half of the season. All three leading rushers, Tony Mathis, CJ Donaldson, and Justin Johnson Jr., dealt with injuries, the most notable of which was Donaldson’s season-ending injury suffered against TCU.
Despite all the injuries, the Mountaineers produced seven 100-yard rushing performances by three different running backs in 2022. The team’s top four running backs will all return, and as Scott noted Tuesday, he also has the advantage of getting to work with two mobile quarterbacks in Garrett Greene and Nicco Marchiol.
Brown stated Monday that the competition for the starting quarterback job won’t be won in the spring. The start of fall camp appears to be the earliest Brown and the staff will make that judgment. While the final call in that process belongs to the head coach, Scott will have a say in determining West Virginia’s QB1 for the 2023 season opener.
“Decision-making [by the quarterbacks] is going to be critical,” Scott said. “That’s going to be one of the biggest deals.”
For that decision, Scott said he will lean heavily on the expertise of Brown and quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan. Like Brown, Scott believes Green and Marchiol will battle one another steadily throughout the spring and summer.
No matter which quarterback wins the starting job, they both present Scott with another change from years past: the ability to be even more multiple, and unpredictable, in what West Virginia can throw at an opposing defense.