Hope Brings Nastiness, Depth to WVU Offense - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Hope Brings Nastiness, Depth to WVU Offense

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MORGANTOWN -

Garrett Hope is getting used to wearing a white jersey every day at practice for West Virginia. A player who has been used across the board at the linebacker positions was asked to join the offense and he took the offer as an opportunity.

"During the spring, they approached me and the defensive coaches wouldn't let it happen," Hope recalls.

Back then, there were still plenty of questions about depth at the linebacker position, but many of those have been answered with veteran players stepping up and new roster additions stepping in. On offense, though, there is only one Cody Clay.

Hope is not being asked to just play fullback or tight end or inside receiver. He's being asked to play all three in a role that Clay took on almost out of necessity, as the staff couldn't define just one position for him.

"Our offense is built on tempo," running backs coach JaJuan Seider explains. "When you've got a guy like Cody that can go up and be at wide receiver, in the backfield, be a tight end – you don't have to change personnel. So we don't have to let the defense sub, so we can continue to put the pressure on the defense. It's very important for us to continue to do that because that's a big part of who we're going to be this season."

If a position is that important to the offense, there is a need to pad it by adding more players who can perform the duties. The Mountaineers have other contenders, including freshman Ellijah Wellman, but they felt that Hope could provide yet another skilled body to take some of the load off of Clay, who is currently resting as a precautionary measure.

"He immediately brings depth," Seider said of Hope. "What it's going to allow us to do is not have to change our offense because the worst thing you want to do is work on a package and if a guy gets hurt, you can't continue to run that package because you don't have depth. He's a natural. He fit right in."

Hope likes to think that his experience playing fullback in high school and tight end in middle school have helped prepare him for this next step in his football career. Perhaps the skill set carries over, but he's meeting the players on defense who deliver the hits he once did and realizing that playing offense at this level is quite a different beast.

Early on in the process, he finds that some of the tendencies he had that made him a solid defender won't work the same way as a lead blocker for a running back.

"They say I'm getting way too much extension, which on defense, you want extension," Hope explained. "On offense, you've got to keep them close, which I'm not really used to yet. We're going to work on that."

The work continues with ball skills and other more finesse aspects of the game that Hope must now learn.

"The thing with him is just getting used to having the ball in his hands, running with the ball again," said Seider. "That's the thing you've got to continue to teach and every day we do a ball security drill so he gets used to carrying the ball."

A theme in camp this year is the attitude of being nasty, which senior defensive lineman Shaq Rowell said is designated more to his side of the ball than the offense.

Hope fits the bill in that respect. Back in the spring, he said that on game day, he goes out with the intention of "killing" the opposition. Just because he is wearing a different jersey in practice these days doesn't mean he has dropped that plan.

"I actually kind of want to bring that mentality to the offense," Hope said. "[I want to] Kind of go after people this year, especially on the front line with our offensive linemen and tight end and fullback."

Seider hears that mentality from his new fullback and feels like Hope will fit right in with WVU's plan this fall.

"To me, a great offense, you've got to have a little nastiness to you," said Seider. "I always tell my guys, when we walk on the field, we're the baddest son of a gun on the field. That's the approach we want to take and with him coming in right now with that same attitude kind of just meshed with the room right away."

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