The takeaway from Saturday’s Gold-Blue scrimmage game in Morgantown is that Jarrett Brown, Pat White’s replacement, was large and in-charge.
You can see a couple of (shaky) videos I shot here.
His arm is no surprise, but what was notable was his field presence: He clearly was the team leader on the field and that will be good for Mountaineer fans to see.
The format of the game followed usual scoring systems. In this, the first team played against the scout team, so the 35-7 score was no surprise.
WVU’s first-team receivers—Alric Arnett, Wes Lyons, and Bradley Starks—looked tall and strong. I was surprised not to see tight end Tyler Urban work into the offense more prominently.
Of course, Noel Devine did what he does: He took a pitch left, ran down the line, found his hole, and squirted through it. Then, at midfield, he cut back and outran the entire defense to the right end zone pylon.
Backup tailback Mark Rodgers got some meaningful carries and showed the burst he displayed last season.
The first-team defense was impressive in shutting down the scout team offense, as they should be, but backup tailback Jordan Roberts somehow found a hole in the line and sprinted 65 yards for a touchdown. Roberts was last season’s Kennedy Award winner as the best player in West Virginia high school football.
Coach Stewart said Roberts will have a role on special teams.
Coley White, Pat White’s younger brother, ran the scout team offense and took a turn running the first-team offense.
He’s fast, like his brother, and even though Coach Stewart said he liked White’s pocket presence, to me, he looked like he was running around like an insane weasel.
Then again, with Reed Williams and the rest chasing you, why wouldn’t you?
Further, White’s throws look more like a shot put; he’s almost got a little jump off his back foot when he throws, and he’s really small.
All that being said, he did find a couple of outlet passes on check-downs and hit early enrollee wide receiver Logan Heastie (pronounced “Hasty”) on a nice crossing route. The crowd noticed that Heastie made the catch and applauded approvingly.
I’m optimistic for this team for a number of reasons.
First, the defense is back, nearly intact, and middle linebacker Reed Williams—the key to the defense—is back after missing almost all of last year. If fragile Brandon Hogan makes it through the year, nose tackle Chris Neild is as good as advertised, and if safety Robert Sands continues to mature, this can be a dominating defense.
If huge Samoan pass rusher Tevita Finau actually hits the field and is not just a myth, like Nessie or the Yeti, well, that’s gravy.
On offense, Brown has had four years at WVU and a full year under Jeff Mullen’s offense, which is something Pat White didn’t have. Devine has another year under his belt and it looks like the team has a couple of answers for short yardage.
If the offensive line can mature quickly—and that’s a big if—considering they’re young and Donnie Barclay broke a fibula in the scrimmage, which means six weeks of healing, this will be a formidable offense.
Just remember this: Tennessee didn’t win its national championship when the great Peyton Manning was running the team. The Vols won the year after he left when Tee Martin was the QB.