The Dominion Post  

WVU’s Jennings’ low TD count due to tough coverages

Created on:   Thu, Mar 8, 2018   9:37 PM

Last modified:   Thu, Mar 8, 2018   9:37 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Some things just don’t make sense, no matter how hard you try.

Why is “E” left out of the grading system? Why do people yell “Heads up!” when you need to duck? Why do you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

Something else that could fall into that category is WVU wide receiver Gary Jenning’s season in 2017. He led the Mountaineers in receiving yards (1,096) and catches, even earning the fifth spot all-time in receptions for a season, with 97.

But among those 97 catches was just one touchdown. Part of a top 10 scoring offense and one of the most prolific passing offenses in the country, Jennings made it into the end zone only one time — in the season opener, against Virginia Tech, on a 60-yard pass from Will Grier, in the fourth quarter.

Jennings actually caught more touchdowns as a sophomore, in 2016 — two on 10 catches.

Jennings’ junior year was a statistical oddity, and wide receivers coach Tyron Carrier believes there’s a simple explanation.

“Defenses are taking him away,” Carrier said of Jennings. “Gary is a big, strong, strong, physical body that they tried to take away. He was double- and triple-covered, and other guys reaped the benefits.”

Those other guys were David Sills and Ka’Raun White, who each scored double-digit touchdowns last season. Sills grabbed a nation-leading 18, while White caught 12.

“Teams had to pick their poison,” Carrier said. “Most of the time, they picked David and Ka’Raun.”

With his size and physical nature, though, Carrier wants Jennings to have more opportunities to get into the end zone, especially in red zone packages.

With opponents likely to place a big emphasis on Sills, given his big year in 2017, Jennings could be the go-to option inside the
20-yard line.

“It’s definitely something I want to work on, even if I am doubled and tripled,” Jennings said. “It’s an improvement that needs to be made, and I think it will this year.”

White is gone, so his production will need to be replaced. While there are no plans to move Jennings from inside receiver back to the outside, where he began his career, that doesn’t mean the offense won’t be tinkered with down the stretch.

Jennings thrived on third down. He averaged 11.3 yards per catch, mainly coming on third-and-manageable downs.

Overall, the Mountaineers want more consistency on third down, and Jennings will have to be a big part of that.

“Our third-down efficiency, we want it to be better,” Grier said. “There were some situations where we know we could have had a better play or could have had a better mind set going into the third down than we did. It’s miserable tape to watch that we’ve watched the past couple days because you’re watching all of the failures on third down.

“But it’s good tape to watch because you can say, ‘What could we have done differently?’ We’ve picked that up and tried to take it and get into more efficient plays to become more efficient on third down, especially.”