The big story today is that Oklahoma gave way and allowed Austin Kendall to transfer to Morgantown to compete for the starting QB job. I haven’t watched Jack Allison in the bowl game yet but it doesn’t sound like he blew anyone away or locked down the job with that outing. Of course Austin Kendall doesn’t seem to have been blowing away Lincoln Riley in Norman either or else he probably wouldn’t have nabbed Jalen Hurts to be the de-facto anointed starter for 2019.
Here are some of the key pieces that West Virginia will need to find this offseason in order to make Brown’s system work properly and give them chance at a winning season in year one:
-Another brute to block in the backfield now that Trevon Wesco is gone.
Per my notes they have Elijah Drummond back but I don’t know what kind of a blocker he is, they have a few other FB types on the roster as well. If they have another Trevon Wesco level talent on the team that’d be a huge boon. Brown has a lot of spread-I run game in his playbook and the Mountaineers have a lot of backs and a fair few OL to utilize in executing it.
-A go-to deep threat, iso WR
This is another one that Holgorsen probably already had stocked up but they need to find him and get him in sync with Kendall or Allison or whomever.
-A DE/OLB hybrid
This is tricky because it’s exactly the sort of player that Tony Gibson ignored in building out the West Virginia football roster. New DC Vic Koenning will utilize the same sort of ILB blitzes that were a regular feature to Gibson’s defenses and that helped David Long put up absurd numbers. The fit at ILB between Gibson’s playbook and Koenning’s style is pretty clean. The only difference is that Koenning will want the guy who can serve as a weak side DE or OLB flat/middle dropper. I don’t know if that guy exists on this roster.
Koenning might be able to adapt to the 3-3-5 stack look, it’s philosophically similar but the playbook can look pretty different.
-A good connection to the defensive backfield in Morgantown
The biggest change is that West Virginia is going to become a primarily quarters-based team after living in the eight man front/cover 3 for years and years. Kenny Robinson and these CBs have some skills that could be very useful in the new scheme but they’re going to have to learn it and figure out how to apply their skills from new angles with new reads.
They’ll need to heavily emphasize teaching this spring, the players are there to make for a solid transition but they have to get up to speed quickly.
If they go for additional grad transfers or JUCOs to fill out the roster keep an eye out for additions at FB, DE/OLB (bandit), and maybe in the secondary even though they appear deep there. Grabbing a corner or especially a safety with experience in a quarters coverage concept could be valuable for making sure everything is translating to the teammates.
Finally, for the record, Neal Brown is a hybrid-bro.
He’s from the Air Raid coaching tree but he spent so much of his formative experiences as an assistant under guys like Tommy Tuberville and Mark Stoops that it’s clear he values physicality and defense more than your average Raid Bro and has experience fostering a program where those things are translated from values into traits.