WVU Receivers, Quarterbacks Find Success Through Trust - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Receivers, Quarterbacks Find Success Through Trust

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MORGANTOWN -

Dana Holgorsen may be pleased with his team's sudden spark in the running department, but there's no secret that a big reason for his success as an offensive coach has always been what he gets the players to accomplish through the air.

That mentality has WVU sitting at No. 6 in the nation in passing offense with 362.8 yards per game.

Aside from the scheme itself and the constant repetition of the play book throughout camp and into each game week, there are a few contributing factors to the players' ability to take what Holgorsen teaches them and make it work so well when it counts.

In practice, there are very few individual drills that the Mountaineers receivers do on a daily basis. The majority of their drills are working with the quarterbacks on routes or with the defensive backs in blocking.

There is one that makes constant appearances throughout the week, though, and that's the noose drill.

The purpose of the drill is to get the receiver and quarterback on the same page in the passing game so that the receiver is thrown away from the defender as well as getting the receiver to work back toward the ball until the catch is made.

In the drill, the receiver lines up across from a pop-up dummy, comes off the ball and past the dummy, hits another dummy set up five yards away and then turns up field toward the quarterback. It's then Geno Smith's job to throw the ball to the receiver and put it either on his left or right shoulder.

Whichever side Smith throws it to, the receiver tucks the ball, turns that direction and runs up field.

"Simple concept – I as a quarterback can see the quarterback, you can't," WVU wide receivers coach Daron Roberts says as he explains the drill. "We teach wide receivers that the quarterback's obviously looking at people that he doesn't want to throw the ball to. So he's going to put that ball in an area where there are no defenders, so as soon as you catch that ball, trust his judgment, catch it and get to the side of that throw."

It certainly is a simple concept, but it's one that is extremely important in the game. Sure, there will be times that the quarterback doesn't put the ball exactly where he intended and some collisions will occur, but the idea is there and seems to have worked well for the Mountaineers through five games.

There are countless times while filming the game from the end zone that a receiver catches the ball in the flats and disappears behind a defender before emerging on either side and getting yards after the catch.

Roberts says Stedman Bailey is particularly effective in this scenario, but Ivan McCartney and Tavon Austin have proven to be good at it as well. The key, he says, is trust.

Trust shouldn't be an issue for Bailey and McCartney, who likely developed that with Smith back in their high school days. Roberts believes constantly practicing the noose drill has improved the team's passing game to a large extent.

"I think if you look at a lot of our big plays that we've made in our passing game, you'll see guys do the exact same thing – caught the ball, trusted Geno's eyes and precision and turned to the side of his throw," says Roberts.

Holgorsen's offensive scheme is far more involved than simply throwing a receiver open on his route, but it's clear in looking at their success so far that the noose drill has helped and the players are certainly on the same page once the ball is snapped.

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