By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
June 27, 2008
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Brandon Hogan likes the idea of having a Virginian as his position coach. The sophomore said Chris Beatty was familiar with him when the two were tearing up the Commonwealth’s high school circuit - Hogan as a record-setting quarterback at Osbourn High School in Manassas and Beatty as a record-setting coach at Landstown High School in Virginia Beach.
||Sophomore Brandon Hogan is expected to be a big part of the passing game in 2008.
Brent Kepner photo
“He knew a lot about me. He saw me play in high school and he knows the things that I am capable of doing,” Hogan said. “That helps me out a lot.”
The question is: who didn’t know about Brandon Hogan? He was Virginia’s offensive player of the year in 2006 after leading Osbourn to a 14-0 record and a big-school title. Hogan passed for 32 touchdowns and ran for 26 more during his senior year. By then, however, Beatty’s coaching career was already taking off. He spent one year with former Mountaineer defensive back Jerry Holmes at Hampton University and then last year Beatty coached at Northern Illinois.
The one opportunity for the two to meet during Hogan’s junior year was derailed when Hogan’s team lost in the state playoffs.
“I would have played against his team when he was at Landstown but my junior year we lost to Hilton in the playoffs and they played his team the game after that,” Hogan said.
What Hogan appreciates most is Beatty’s laidback approach to coaching.
“He’s cool and mellow. He’s not really with all of the yelling. He just wants us to do everything right and not make him look bad,” Hogan said, pointing to Bill Stewart’s office.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 186-pounder is now a slot receiver for the Mountaineers and is one of the playmakers Bill Stewart is counting on this year in the passing game. Hogan played as a true freshman in 2007, catching 12 passes for 67 yards. But his performance in 2007 was more of a teaser of what Hogan can really do on the football field.
Hogan is expecting to get the football in his hands much more in 2008 and he is excited about West Virginia’s new-found emphasis on the passing game.
“A lot of people don’t know West Virginia for passing the ball and they’re going to see it and it’s going to be like crazy,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff put in that people don’t know about.”
Stuff like motioning just about everyone that could possibly put their hands on the football?
“Yeah, we’ve got a lot of motion and a lot of stuff that people aren’t used to seeing West Virginia do,” Hogan said, mentioning that the objective is to get defenses thinking.
“It messes with our defense and they tell us but it helps them as well because they are going against us everyday so they will be ready for it when they see it during the season,” he said.
Attacking different areas of the field is something Hogan says West Virginia is planning to do this fall as well.
“We didn’t really throw the ball too much over the middle of the field,” Hogan said. “We got a lot of things that attacks the middle of the field like high-low with the safety and all of that.”
Hogan said he could get the football on quick handoffs while in motion. That was something the Mountaineers spent time on last spring.
“We’ve got a couple of runs for the slots like this jet motion thing that we do. We come in motion across and Pat just hikes the ball and gives it to us,” Hogan said. “We’ve got some runs with that. I guess you can count screens as runs, too.”
All of these things are designed to make West Virginia less predictable on offense and keep defenses from loading up the box to stop the run. The Mountaineers are still going to run the football, but having other things to contend with will make the offense even more explosive.
These are the things the players are working on by themselves during the summertime. Although coaches can’t be around for summer passing drills, Hogan said the players have made them organized and productive.
“It’s going pretty well. It is helping us get the offense back into our head and just helping us get better,” Hogan said. “We catch a lot of balls.”
Hogan said quarterbacks Pat White and Jarrett Brown have performed well. He said the opportunity to run routes with West Virginia’s top two quarterbacks is beneficial for everyone.
“It is getting them better, knowing their receivers and knowing where the ball is supposed to be at certain times,” he said.
Hogan is excited about the prospects for this season and he can’t wait for fall camp to arrive.
“It needs to hurry up and come because I can’t wait. It’s taking too long. I’m ready for camp. I’m in condition,” he said. “I’m just ready to get past August so we can get to the games.”
The difference between the training methods of former strength coach Mike Barwis and current strength coach Mike Joseph? Not much, according to Brandon Hogan.
“We do a couple of different things but a lot of things are similar,” Hogan said.
Weight training is weight training. No one has a patent on exercises. While Barwis employed a high-energy approach that fit well with the no-huddle offense, Joseph is a stickler about doing drills right. The last thing Joseph wants to do is get someone hurt arching their back trying to push up 400 pounds on the bench press or throwing out their shoulder trying to sling up a couple hundred pounds over their head.
The object is to prevent injuries, not create them.
“(Joseph) is not as strict as Barwis was and he is more laid back, but he makes sure we do our work. Barwis was, rah, rah, crazy - hyped and always moving around and hitting you and stuff. They are different types.”
Hogan said Joseph preaches the importance of the recovery period just as much as the importance of the training period. They both go hand in hand.
“He cares about us and he doesn’t want us sore all of the time,” Hogan said. “He started us all off with low weights and we were all like, what’s going on? We were used to doing big weight but he wanted us to get our form right. He was real strict about getting our form right before we went up with weight.”
Joseph plans to give the team a break for July 4th weekend before the start of the second summer semester session.