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WVU offense has options aplenty

by Joedy McCreary


(Friday, August 21, 1998) MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia University's offense won't be awestruck when No. 1 Ohio State takes to Mountaineer Field on Sept. 5, offensive coordinator Dan Simrell said.

Simrell acknowledges Ohio State linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer is a "great player." And Simrell compares the Buckeyes' Antoine Winfield to Dre' Bly, North Carolina's All-American cornerback who helped the Tar Heels beat the 1996 Mountaineer team in the Gator Bowl.

However, West Virginia receivers Shawn Foreman and David Saunders, Simrell says, "have been around the block a few times."

What he's implying in that statement is that an experienced first team means plenty of confidence for the Mountaineers. Eight starters are back from last year's unit that scored 30 points per game.

"We're veterans, and we don't feel hamstrung," Simrell said. "With Saunders, Foreman, (Khori) Ivy and Pat Greene, we have four quality receivers. What's nice is that they've all been there, done that. There won't be any first-game jitters."

Such confidence gives the Mountaineers plenty of options should they face a crucial third-and-3, Simrell said. And if Simrell doesn't know what's coming, he reasons, the defense doesn't stand a chance.

"It doesn't matter to me what we can do," Simrell said. "I can throw the ball to Amos (Zereoue). Can you defend it? The tailback may get it this way, or that way. If you're going to give us something, we'll take it."

"Balance" is the buzzword in Morgantown as WVU's two-a-day camp winds toward its Saturday conclusion. Simrell would like his offense on the field for 80 plays per game, and Zereoue would optimally touch the ball 25 to 30 times.

But scholarship limitations have made a deep bench a luxury, Simrell said. West Virginia is thinnest at offensive line and tight end, where Anthony Becht is the only returning player.

"It's not just here, it's everywhere," Simrell said. "There's one in Columbus. There's one in Syracuse. No one is two-deep at every position."

Simrell said tailback Alvin Swoope is Zereoue's backup right now, but he's pleased with the progress of freshmen Brannon Goins and Lew Daniels.

Freshman Antonio Brown may see playing time at receiver, Simrell said.


n Ten of WVU's 11 games will be broadcast live in West Virginia, WVU Assistant Athletic Director Mike Parsons said. The Tulsa game won't be, he said.

n For the Ohio State game, CBS will use 20 cameras throughout Mountaineer Field, including one atop nearby Ruby Memorial Hospital.

n CBS will broadcast its halftime show -- featuring host Tim Brando, Lou Holtz and Craig James -- from a set constructed at Mountaineer Field.

n About 55,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday's NFL exhibition between Pittsburgh and Atlanta at Mountaineer Field, Parsons said. Most have come from West Virginia residents with minimal orders from western Pennsylvania.