Bringing some Stanford to WVU
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — New West Virginia offensive line coach Ron Crook, known for his role in developing Stanford's tight ends and power running game, wasn't hired to scale back the Mountaineers' wide-open attack following the losses of quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
But expect Crook to make alterations to what ranked among college football most exciting offenses the past two seasons.
“There's only so many plays you can run in football,” said Crook, a West Virginia native whose resume includes stints at Stanford, Harvard, Illinois, Clarion and Cincinnati. “We're running the same kind of plays we ran at Stanford. The difference is, at Stanford we were putting extra tight ends and extra offensive linemen on the field to do it. Here, we're spreading people out. It's a different philosophy from a schematic standpoint, but you're trying to accomplish the same thing.”
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said Crook's being versed in the power running game will enhance the offense.
“I'm never above getting someone's input,” Holgorsen said. “He brings something to the table that is different than what I've done in the past, which is interesting.
“The biggest thing is bringing in ideas, having a voice and bringing some specific things to the table.”
Crook wants to combine the best of West Virginia's and Stanford's offenses.
“There's some things I think can help us and not change what we're doing,” he said. “We're going to do a lot of the same things because they were good at it.”
Among Crook's proposed changes is adding another layer to the Mountaineers' zone-blocking schemes.
Instead of linemen blocking a particular area, Crook wants them to become more of a power-blocking unit, especially in short-yardage situations.
“That's surely going to be an emphasis,” Crook said. “We're still going to be a big zone-blocking team — that's not going to change. But I believe in zoning through people more — blocking through them and not going to an area.”
Personnel changes will include Thomas Jefferson graduate Pat Eger moving inside from tackle to center as the coaching staff seeks a replacement for four-year starter Joe Madsen.
Eger will compete for the starting position with Tyler Orlosky and junior-college transfer Stone Underwood, who won't join the team until the summer.
“It's something that I have never played before,” said Eger, an All-Big 12 selection at right tackle. “No one has a spot right now. Everyone is fighting every day. The snapping was the biggest thing at the beginning. As soon as you line up with someone in front of you and in your face, it gets a little bit different.”
Change is a natural progression for the Mountaineers considering Holgorsen has added five new coaches since the end of last season.
New coaches spark new ideas.
“Anybody that's coming in right now has a chance,” Crook said regarding the status of the offensive line. “We're nowhere near where we've got to be in a few months.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
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