WVU football: Mountaineers' inside receivers struggling
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - What started as Shannon Dawson's enthusiastic review of newcomer running back Charles Sims transitioned quickly into the offensive coordinator's equally animated frustration with another part of his offense.
"You could probably put him at inside receiver right now and he would do things better than what the guys there are doing," Dawson said. "That's just the honesty of it and that's more the inside receivers' fault than his."
"They've had maximum opportunities and reps to do it right. They're just lazy and they won't do it. We'll find somebody that will."
Dawson, who had been the receivers coach before being moved this offseason to quarterbacks, has had to work with some limitations so far. Sophomores Jordan Thompson, who the coaches have been disappointed with since late last season, and Dante Campbell, who missed spring practice, and freshman Shelton Gibson have missed time in preseason camp with injuries.
Junior college transfers Mario Alford and Ronald Carswell and freshman Jacky Marcellus are new to campus and Carswell has actually worked more often as an outside receiver.
Redshirt freshman Vernon Davis is new to the position and he and classmate Devonte Mathis didn't play last season.
There are others on the list, but that's part of the problem for Dawson and receivers coach Lonnie Galloway.
"We have a lot of them, but I think we're dumping way too many reps throughout the whole group," Dawson said. "I think if a couple guys got a majority of the reps, obviously they'll pick it up a little quicker."
That time is coming fast for the Mountaineers. Dawson wants four receivers for the two outside positions and three or four receivers for the two inside positions. He'd be delighted with the quantity and quality outside and mostly flustered about the situation inside.
"It's getting close right now," Dawson said. "We're sitting here just a couple weeks out, so eventually in the next two or three days we'll start limiting reps so we can tell who's got potential or the capacity and who doesn't right now. We'll start limiting reps and start pouring reps into guys pretty quickly."
Dawson said his patience is thinning because his expectations are low and still mostly unsatisfied.
"At this point with what we do offensively, you should know what to do," he said.
He wants players to run their routes fast and isn't really concerned for the time being if the inside receiver runs the wrong route.
"If they run the wrong route, but they run it fast, I'd be the happiest person in the universe right now," Dawson said.
Dawson really wants the inside receivers to block. He said it's the "least-skilled" requirement for receivers and demands about two seconds of effort. It nevertheless manages to evade those players.
"At times, they don't even need shoulder pads out there the way they block," he said.
The Mountaineers want to use three and four receivers on their ordinary snaps, which means one or two players at the inside positions. That doesn't necessarily mean they'll use one or two inside receivers. Cody Clay is a tight end who can play fullback and inside receiver. He uses his size as an inside receiver to block defenders, but Dawson also said WVU can make the most of the large number of outside receivers who have thus far earned Dawson's respect.
"If you're our third-best outside receiver, but you're one of our best receivers all-around, we'll move you inside and dump reps to you to get you ready," Dawson said.
Junior college transfer Kevin White is the most consistently praised receiver and would seem like a fixture outside, likely with sophomore K.J. Myers. Senior Ivan McCartney has played more than any other receiver, but has always been on the outside. Carswell has seen most of his action outside, where he played last season in junior college, but has done some work inside and played there at Alabama. Freshman Dakiel Shorts was with the team for spring football and spent some time inside.
"It'll have to be a guy that mentally we know can handle it," Dawson said. "There are some guys that need to be put in one spot and that's it, and there are some guys who we say, 'Well, that kid, in talking to him and watching him, he probably has the mental capacity to move around a little bit.' Those decisions are going to be made between now and the end of the week.
"If there is one of those guys we don't have a problem moving outside to inside, we have to do it at this point because you don't want to do it too late to where the guy isn't given a fair opportunity to learn it. He has to have the mental capacity to do it and I think we have a couple outside guys who do."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.