MORGANTOWN - In a perfect world, Robert Gillespie will reach a point as West Virginia's running backs coach where he's working with his eyes closed.
This is not to say it'll ever be that simple, but he strives to have a blind trust in his players, like the kind he enjoyed last season at Oklahoma State.
"I had an All-American guy I was comfortable pulling off the field," Gillespie said. "It's third-and-goal at Texas last year and Kendall Hunter is standing next to me and we've got a redshirt freshman in the game. We hand it off to him and he scores."
Hunter was an All-American in 2008 and again in 2010 and the Mountaineers, as they are currently composed, have no one like that. That's fine for Gillespie, who sees a group of small and big backs and even former fullbacks who give him options so that they can grow to be similar to one another.
There might not be a Hunter, or even a Noel Devine, who WVU must immediately replace, but he has guys who will get his message.
"We want to play fast and not slow down and change a whole set," he said. "It may be third-and-1 and we might say, 'Hey, hurry up, let's go high tempo before the defense gets set,' and you've got to get in there and hit it.'
Kendall Hunter last year was 5-foot-8, 190 pounds and in spots like that he was the short-yardage back.
"There are times when we know who we are. We get to the goal line and we want to go big, we'll do that. But as a whole, I want guys who understand that when we call a short-yardage play, I want to be able to put my hand over my eyes and let that one guy say, 'Let's go get it.'"
WVU wants to go. Doesn't matter who is on the field. That player can and will stay on the field. The same back the Mountaineers use to run a draw on second-and-20 would be the same to get the ball on third-and-inches.
It might be a little guy like 5-6, 185-pound Daquan Hargrett, who is better served for the draw than the dive, but it might also be 6-foot, 225-pound Ryan Clarke, who handles the blast better than the dash.
"That's what I want these guys to understand," said Gillespie, a former running back at the University of Florida and the Washington Redskins who worked at South Carolina before Oklahoma State. "If they work hard and practice the right way, I don't care who is in the game. We've got to get to the point where all our guys are comfortable playing all the plays."