MORGANTOWN — New West Virginia offensive line coach Matt Moore has a simple philosophy, one that the Kansas City Chiefs adhere to even with all of their offensive bells and whistles.
“You watch the film, it’s about the offensive line moving people up front,” Moore said in a signing day radio interview with Tony Caridi. “That’s what makes football great. It still comes down to the fat kids being able to move other fat kids.”
It may take some time for Moore to stock the roster with his prototype of “fat guy.” The Mountaineers did not add any offensive linemen in the small batch of three new players that were added to December’s 16-man signing class Wednesday.
He does know what he’s looking for, though – guys with long enough arms to get a good push.
“It’s not about height, it’s about arm length,” Moore said. “We’re not trying to block shots. We look at ‘How long are their arms?’ He might be 6-foot-1 but have an 80-inch wingspan. You want to put that and athleticism together.”
There are three scholarship openings for the Mountaineers to fill by the start of next school year. It would be an upset if at least one of them doesn’t end up being filled by an offensive lineman.
“Just as a scholarship-number standpoint, we have some depth issues on the offensive line and defensive line,” Brown said.
The depth issue became more pronounced last month. Starting center Matt Jones is the lone transfer WVU is losing this offseason after choosing to go to hometown Youngstown State.
At least it’s clear Brown has someone he trusts to fill that vacancy. Moore has a long history with Brown, working with him in two different stints at Troy as well as Texas Tech. Each season, the offensive playbook is built from the ground up based on the abilities of the offensive line.
Moore said some years it’s been a more power-oriented gap-blocking scheme with lots of pulling by guards. Teams with more cerebral linemen have gone to an inside zone-blocking approach. When blessed with more nimble linemen, their teams have gone with outside zone schemes.
“We’ve done a good job of making the offense fit what the offensive line can do,” Moore said.
Regardless of the scheme, pass protection has been the No. 1 priority for Moore’s linemen. In order for the small guys to do their thing in the open field, the big guys have to buy the quarterback time. Troy led the nation with eight sacks allowed in 2016 — an impressive feat considering the Trojans threw 369 more passes than second-place Army.
“We’ve always hung our hat on pass protection,” Moore said. “Throwing or running, we’re gonna be physical.”