MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Count the main left guard James Gmiter among those on board with the hiring of a new offensive coordinator Graham Harrel.
The now-blonde father-of-two said Harrell’s first encounter with the whole offense was a positive experience for everyone involved.
“The first thing he said to us when he got here was that we were going to turn it on, and I think that rejuvenated our group,” Gmiter admitted on Saturday afternoon. “We have guys here who want to score points and win games and telling him that really put us in perspective that we can do that with him.
“He was in Green Bay, and he was with a great quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) so he knows what to adapt to and how to call something,” Gmiter said. “His intelligence is at its peak, and I think that’s what will make him a good offensive coordinator for us.”
Last year, West Virginia scored and moved football against the teams it was supposed to move football and score. However, when the Mountaineers faced the strongest defenses on their schedule, they really struggled, scoring 13 points in a road loss at Oklahoma, three points in a disappointing home loss to Oklahoma State and just six points. in the loss to Minnesota.
West Virginia’s offensive struggles in the bowling game dragged the coach down Neal Brown to bring in Harrell from USC to breathe new life and excitement into the offense. Through three spring training sessions, Gmiter said he sees a difference.
“Having a guy like him in this program, where his big thing is having fun and letting loose and lighting up the scoreboard, I think that’s what this offense needs,” he said. -he declares. “We have guys who can make explosive plays like KP (Kaden Prather) and Tony Mathis, and our offensive line is experienced enough that we can make the explosive plays work.”
Gmiter added: “I think (Saturday) was the most explosive game we’ve had in practice, so you can see just by what he brings to the table that it’s going to elevate our offense.”
Gmiter said Mathis’ consistency really stood out among running backs, but Clemson’s transfer Lyn J Dixon has a lot of ability and will add a lot to the offense once he gets more comfortable with the plays.
“Mathis, you know what you’re going to get out of him because he’s been so consistent, and Lyn-J is still new to the program, so he’s still trying to figure out little things,” Gmiter said. “We do a good job of communicating to him from the start to make sure he knows who we have and who he has just to make sure it’s reassuring for him. Once he arrives and he really grasps offense, I think we’ve got two or three guys there who can homer.”
There has been a big change in the offensive dynamic this year, with the offensive line being the most experienced aspect of the team.
Gmiter admits it’s been a little weird that the whole band will come back intact – something that hasn’t happened since they started here in 2018.
“It’s the only year we have all five (starters) back, because the first year we had Yodny (Cadjus) and he left. It’s a learning curve for us, but I think that we really set the tone with winter training,” Gmiter pointed out. “You can go ask any of the coaches right now and they’d say the offensive line was the toughest and most consistent work group. I think that’s what we had to do to take that step. to lead the team.”
Gmiter said the great relationship they have extends off the pitch as well.
“We text every day and whenever we have team events, we’re all together. We get along really well,” he said. “We all have something in common, and we also understand that the common goal is to be a great team and to be a great offensive line.”
Gmiter believes the offensive line’s poor performance in last year’s 45-20 loss to Baylor really opened the group’s eyes and forced them to hit the reset button. He thought the group really gelled in the regular season finale at Kansas.
“Once we figured out what we wanted to do, it clicked. The inside area was decent for us and the outside area took a bit, just because it’s harder to run away from the ball and have the low pads in this pattern,” he said. “It was the best we’ve run outside of the zone. So far in the spring we’re so far ahead of what we’ve been in terms of patterns and technique that if we can just build on that , it will be a huge leap from last year.”
Gmiter admits the next step for this offensive line is to perform better against the stronger defenses on West Virginia’s schedule.
“The next step for us is to do it against teams that don’t think we’ll do it,” he said. “Being consistent is something we try to achieve. Coach (Matt) Moore says your good days have to be really good and your bad days can’t be really bad. We have to be the same person every day, and I think it’s something that happens in our bedroom.”
Having an experienced offensive line that comes back intact will certainly come in handy for West Virginia’s young quarterbacks, Garrett Greene, Will Crowder and Nicolas Marchiolbut Gmiter admits these are the guys who will lead the attack this year.
“We’re going to have to listen to what they’re saying, but if we have an adjustment we’d make, we’d offer it to them… ‘Hey, that’s what we’d do’ or ‘if we get that look that’s what we’ll do. It’s not just like we’re telling them what to do or they’re telling us what to do – it’s a fluid movement of communication and understanding.”
West Virginia returns to spring football work Tuesday morning with its coach Neal Brown planned to speak to the media afterwards. The annual Mountaineers Professional Day will be held Tuesday afternoon at the Caperton Indoor Training Center.
The event is closed to the general public.