MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Just a couple of months ago, senior inside receiver Tyler Urban was uncertain what role he would play in Dana Holgorsen’s offense. It was a worry shared by many offensive players as a new offensive coordinator and staff marked changes in the routine.
But it turns out that Urban didn’t need to worry. After a very successful spring – one that saw him make Rivals.com college football writer Tom Dienhart’s All-Spring Team
- he’s found a place for himself in the new scheme that Holgorsen’s offense presents.
“I can see where this offense is as a whole and for me,” Urban said. “Six months ago, I wasn’t really sure and I didn’t know what I was going to do. Going through this spring has really opened my eyes and I see where it’s at now.”
What this spring proved more than anything is that every player can have a spot in the offense if they’re willing to work hard enough at being consistent. It’s an offense that uses every size and type of athlete, creating numerous dimensions and opening up plenty of options.
“You have me on one side of the slot and Tavon Austin on the other,” Urban explained. “We have J.D. Woods, Ivan McCartney, Brad Starks, Stedman Bailey and Coley White on the outside as receivers, so we have different bodies out there. In the backfield, we have the fullbacks and the running backs. We have Shawne Alston, Trey Johnson and Vernard Roberts. So we’re not one dimensional and we have a lot of options.”
With Holgorsen wanting to attack all parts of the field, Urban believes the team is headed in the right direction.
“We have somebody for each spot on the field,” he stated. “(Holgorsen) is going to put us and the team in the best position to win. He knows what our limitations are and what we can and can’t do so he’ll work with that.”
After spending the past semester learning the new offense, the players will turn their focus the summer development season, which involves a lot of activities only the players can organize.
“This offense is more about finesse, but those are things that will be worked on more as far as timing goes,” Urban explained.
A North Huntingdon, Pa. native, Urban fit into past West Virginia offenses as a tight end, seeing three successful seasons at that position. This year, however, he will used at a completely different position and will be required to do completely different things, a transition that has made an immediate impact on the offense.
Recently, Urban was recognized by Rivals.com after averaging 16.3 yards per catch in the two officiated scrimmages and adding a touchdown catch in the spring game.
Granted, it’s still too early to tell how things are going to turn out in the fall - those decisions won’t be made until camp starts in August - but Urban’s size, athleticism and early success have not been lost on Holgorsen.
“He (Urban) catches the ball well,” Holgorsen said. “Everyone around here views slot receivers as the Tavon Austin kind of guys and the Jock Sanders kind of guys, but I’ve used tight ends as slot receivers before. It’s getting in the right spot and being able to catch the ball in traffic. Having the bigger bodies that can block linebackers is also very important.”
Now that he’s familiar with the basics of the new offense, Urban plans to improve on all of the little details necessary to fine tune his game. The routes have already come easily.
“You have your set route, but when you come off of the line you can see different openings and different tendencies that the defense is making and you can find that open hole as we get better and better,” he explained.
Having a quarterback that can easily find those openings is a big help as well. Junior Geno Smith has been working hard to recover from his foot injury and is building on the talent he already possesses.
“This offense is good for him,” Urban detailed. “He’s really smart on the field and can see the different routes, and he gives us different routes on both sides. I can see that he can read the coverages and he knows what he’s doing.”
With an exciting new offense that should improve by the day and will enable the players to set the tempo, while also maximizing the ability for any player on the field to make a big play at any time, fans and players alike are eagerly looking forward to fall afternoons in Morgantown and the start of the regular season.
But for now, Urban is focused on taking one thing at a time.
“This is my last season, my last spring, and my last fall coming up,” he concluded. “I’m just excited about it and I’m taking it as it comes.”A reminder: the priority deadline for renewing your football season tickets is this Friday. Those renewing online at WVUGAME.com can save $10.