WVU’s Sills, White ready to face Utah secondary

MORGANTOWN — The last time David Sills took the field in a bowl game for WVU, he hauled in a game-winning touchdown pass from Skyler Howard in the Cactus Bowl, against Arizona State, in 2015.

At the time, it seemed like a small detour for Sills, who still thought he was going to be a collegiate quarterback. He switched to receiver earlier in the season but wasn’t sure if it was a permanent move.

Instead, Sills caught what could be the most important touchdown of the season, and the coaching staff saw a brighter future at receiver than quarterback.

Sills had different ideas.

He transferred to El Camino College to play one season at quarterback, and though it was successful, Sills realized that maybe his WVU coaches were right.

Today, in Dallas, Sills will be in his first bowl game since the Cactus Bowl, not as an experiment, but as one of the best wide receivers in the country. But, as usual, the past glory hasn’t really crossed Sills’ mind.

“I really haven’t given it much thought, with that bowl game or anything,” Sill said. “We are just attacking this game as any other game. It is obviously a bowl game, so we have a little more time to prepare. We have been working hard in these several weeks before the game. We are ready to get out there and play again.”

Sills wasn’t on the team when the Mountaineers took on Miami in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, a 31-14 loss to the Hurricanes. Ka’Raun White was, however, but could not play because of a fractured leg he suffered a month earlier, against Iowa State.

While Sills is considered the hero for the win over Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl, White had the best game of his sophomore season, hauling in four passes for 116 yards.

“The bowl games are a lot of fun,” he said. “We get to spend a whole week out wherever we’re playing, so it’s a lot of fun. We get a nice little break from football, so when it comes to the bowl week, we’re all fresh and happy to be able to play again. We aren’t exhausted from all the games during the season. I look forward to bowl games.”

Sills and White will lead a WVU pass offense against a Utah defense ranked No. 52 in the country in yards allowed per game. With Chris Chugunov as WVU’s starting quarterback, the Utes will attack with a man-to-man defense.

“I think we can attack their secondary, as well,” Sills said. “That was a good reason why we had to get the timing down with Chugs. We will have five weeks of preparation up to the bowl game. We have done a good job at that as a receiving corps, just working with Chugs and everything. We feel comfortable with our game plan going into Utah.”

Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said Utah likes to show different looks up front, so figuring out what the Utes are in pre-snap will be key.

“We are going to be throwing more ‘looks’ at the guys because they are a multiple front,” he said. “They will be moving in and out of three down fronts to ‘bear’ to four down fronts to over-unders, all sorts of things up front. There will be some good conversations with some of these plays just to make sure we are all on the same page and that we are going to execute these plays in a certain look.

“Mainly, it is just to get acclimated, get running around and make sure that we have the right mind set. The game plan, the scheme is in, it is more of a mentality of this point moving forward.”

Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. today.