College football: UC coach optimistic for offense
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The University of Charleston football team lost only two times in 11 games last fall.
Not coincidentally, it was in those defeats the Golden Eagles scored their fewest points.
That's an issue for UC Coach Pat Kirkland, who completed his third spring practice on Thursday with plenty of optimism for an offense that - last season - averaged 30.3 points per game but averaged 10 in defeats to Shepherd and Glenville State.
"I'd think the offense on a daily basis got the best of the defense (during the spring)," said Kirkland, who is 14-3 since beginning his head coaching career with five consecutive losses in 2011. "I know they did in the spring game. That's a defense that was No. 2 in the country in total defense. From a head coaching standpoint, that was good to see."
The Golden Eagles leaned heavily on Jordan Roberts, the 2007 Kennedy Award winner from Scott High School who is hoping to be selected in this week's NFL Draft.
He accounted for 1,611 yards for the Golden Eagles, giving Kirkland a security blanket in the backfield and on kick returns, where Roberts had 389 yards.
The Golden Eagles also will be without 2012 leading receiver Shaquille Williams, who was kicked off the team after a January arrest.
Those losses alone will lead to different twists for the UC offense, Kirkland said, but nothing drastic.
"We changed some things in the passing game," Kirkland said. "There will definitely be more competition at specific positions, which is one of the reasons we'll see the offense really compete."
Perhaps a few more downfield throws could be in the offing for the 2013 Golden Eagles?
"That's a goal," Kirkland said. "You always have to do what your personnel dictates. I was pleased we took four or five shots in the spring game within about 40 plays deep. We had some opportunities there. We have to get better."
The Golden Eagles transition to the Mountain East Conference on Saturday, Sept. 21 when they visit the University of Virginia at Wise.
WEST VIRGINIA STATE'S new coaching staff is working with low numbers in its first spring in Institute, but all signs point to a positive environment toward Saturday's Black and Gold spring game.
Primarily, said first-year Coach Jon Anderson, those positives are the 45 players who have been in spring workouts have bought what he and his first-year staff are selling.
"You get one chance to lay the foundation and to start this thing," said Anderson, who had 11 years as an assistant at the University of Sioux Falls prior to arriving in Institute. "We're very clear and deliberate in our expectations. You believe in certain things and you don't sacrifice things you hold firmly.
"For me that's discipline, work ethic and being sound fundamentally. Those are three things I won't compromise."
Anderson said they have implemented a scaled-down version of their schemes, and is pleased with the conditioning work done by the offensive linemen under assistant Mike Krysl.
"We've trimmed some fat and gained some muscle," said Anderson, who has worked with cafeteria personnel to assist with his players' diets. "We're better in some spots because we had five offensive linemen lose a combined 110 pounds from January to spring break (which ended March 31). To me, that's buying in."
The Black and Gold spring game on Saturday will complete a day of festivities on the State campus in Institute.
Beginning at 10 a.m., the football team will host a free kids' clinic, which is open to all children in 1st-8th grade and requires only a shirt, shoes and shorts.
"Our players will run around with these guys," Anderson said. "We'll get the uniforms out and have a scrimmage at 3."
The spring game will be a "glorified scrimmage," Anderson said, to include 45-50 snaps, an officiating crew as well as scorekeeping and announcers.
"There will be a lot of recruits and we have some alumni who are interested in coming back," Anderson said. "It should be a great atmosphere. I'm excited how this turned out."
Parents can register their children online at www.wvsuyellowjackets.com or in person at 9:30 a.m. the day of the game.
For more information, call the W.Va. State football office at 304-766-3204.