The Dominion Post  

‘Wildcat’ has success at O.U., could expand vs. Utah

Created on:   Wed, Dec 6, 2017   12:32 AM

Last modified:   Wed, Dec 6, 2017   12:32 AM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — WVU head football coach Dana Holgorsen said there was a plan in place for a backup quarterback during the Oklahoma game, but he wouldn’t say exactly what it was.

Sophomore Chris Chugunov was the starter for the injured Will Grier, and behind Chugunov was junior-college transfer and preferred redshirt David Isreal. While a crisis situation didn’t arise for Holgorsen, he likely tipped his hand to what that plan was, and it worked well against the Sooners.

With a stable of capable running backs, the Mountaineers went with a “wildcat” look, with direct snaps going to sophomore Kennedy McKoy as he was flanked by senior Justin Crawford. Chugunov typically flanked to the outside, at wide receiver.

It immediately gets the ball into playmakers’ hands and can confuse a defensive front. It worked to the tune of 137 yards and three touchdowns for Mc-Koy, and an additional 97 yards for Crawford.

“It worked,” Chugunov said. “It worked pretty well. [McKoy] ran well with it and we had a few cool plays we ran off of it, too, so it was a good little package for us, no doubt.”

The week leading up to the O.U. game was the first time WVU practiced the wildcat package.

“With no having school (for Thanksgiving break), it got us a lot more mental reps and meeting times to go out and run these packages,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “Moving forward, I thought we were pretty successful with it, and I think Kennedy has a really good feel for that stuff.”

Spavital said it was discussed all year that if a third-quarterback situation ever arose, either McKoy, David Sills or Gary Jennings would get snaps in the wildcat, but with the way McKoy was running the ball against the Sooners, it was difficult to switch up personnel.

McKoy played some quarterback as a freshman at North Davidson (N.C.) High. Since then, he was strictly a running back.

“That experience helped me to be comfortable taking a snap out of the shotgun and giving an indicator, stuff like that,” McKoy said.

There were four plays in the wildcat set, and continuous reps during prep week helped McKoy get comfortable taking snaps, making reads and giving hand-offs.

“It changed the offense up a little bit and it was a different look for the defense,” said Crawford, who didn’t think taking hand-offs from McKoy was any different than from Grier or Chugunov.

With three weeks remaining until the Heart of Dallas Bowl, against Utah (6-6), the wildcat could become a bigger part of the offense as the Mountaineers prepare to take on the Utes, especially with Holgorsen saying Grier’s chance to return in time from a broken hand is “not very good.”

“I think we can get more creative with it,” Spavital said. “We only had about five plays that we just repped them all over the place. We can grow off of that and see where it takes off. We’ve got some time with the bowl prep and we can see where we can take it.”

Utah has one of the better rush defenses in the country, sitting at 36th and allowing 139.8 yards per game.

As for McKoy, he’s looking forward to seeing how much the wildcat can be expanded.

“I’m excited to show people what I can do other than running back,” he said.