MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It will be a new look on offense for West Virginia in 2022.
The Mountaineers have not only had a change in who will be calling plays, with the addition of Graham Harrell as offensive coordinator, but personnel at key positions will be different, as well.
WVU’s leading passer, rusher, and pass-catcher from 2021 are all no longer with the program.
As spring football practices got underway on Tuesday, a heavy emphasis has been placed on installing and learning Harrell’s offensive scheme.
“It’s kind of a three-day install, offensively,” said head coach Neal Brown on Tuesday.
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With Harrell in charge of the offense, USC led the Pac-12 and was No. 17 nationally in passing offense (298.3) and red zone offense (.902) last season. Harrell’s Trojans were also No. 20 in third-down conversion percentage, and No. 24 in total offense (443.9) in 2021.
His lead receiver, Drake London, was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on several All-America teams.
West Virginia, meanwhile, was fourth in the Big 12 and No. 56 nationally in passing offense (247.9).
“The pass game, there’s some things that Graham’s teaching different,” said Brown. “There’s some different concepts. We’re doing some things different in the protection game. And so, how we’re doing it, yes it is different. Is it night and day, probably not. But there are some significant differences.”
He added Tuesday that the three top quarterbacks – Garrett Greene, Will Crowder and Nicco Marchiol – will all be rotated throughout spring practices in order to get the necessary reps. This is to not only see which passer impresses Brown and the coaching staff the most, but also to better learn Harrell’s offense.
There is also plenty to learn for those in the running back room. Brown said the run game installation process is “a little bit different.”
While saying that, schematically, the Mountaineers’ running game won’t look, “drastically different,” this coming season, he did add, “We fully expected to be improved in that.”
West Virginia ranked last in the Big 12 in rushing offense (123.2) last season.
“I think run game is extremely important. I think you have to be able to run the football,” Harrell said earlier this month. “To win at a really high level, you have to be able to run the football.”
When Harrell spoke on March 3, he said that the biggest difference for the players could be the signal calling and what he called the operational portion of the offense.
“We expect to be good in year one,” Harrell said. “And I do think because there’s enough similar things between what they were doing and what we were doing, hopefully the transition is a lot easier.”
He added, though, that there are similarities between the offense he runs and what the Mountaineers ran in 2021.