Daniels and WVU receivers will try to stay on the same page for home opener


It’s no secret that college football coaches love getting transfers with playing experience before arriving at their respective schools, and that’s exactly what West Virginia’s Neal Brown got with the quarterback. -back JT Daniels.

Although he didn’t join the Mountaineers until spring training, Daniels came to Morgantown with four years of Power Five football under his belt at USC and Georgia.

This gave Daniels an edge coming into camp, as he and the West Virginia receivers began to feel comfortable and trust each other on the field fairly quickly.

“You pretty much know it, like the first day (of practice) to be honest,” Daniels said at a news conference on Monday. “I threw a lot of footballs and played with a lot of good receivers. There are a lot of good receivers here (in West Virginia).”

Through a game, Daniels receivers and climbers showed that they knew how to stay in mutual understanding with each other, with Daniels having the ability to change protection and routes using hand signals.

With the routes adjusted to match the defensive pattern West Virginia faces, Daniels and his receivers need to maintain good timing to be able to beat the opposition in the air.

Daniels, however, dismissed that idea, saying it was all based on the trust he and his teammates have.

“With the ‘timing,’ I don’t mean it’s over hyped, but to some extent it is,” Daniels said. “I had never thrown with these receivers before until day one of practice, and we figured it out. I know where they’re supposed to be at what time. They know where they’re supposed to be at what time. The ball has to just get there.

Daniels backed up those comments by throwing two touchdown passes to West Virginia top receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton, with both scores coming after Daniels faded routes after seeing 1-on-1 press coverage from fullbacks Pittsburgh defenses.

Ford-Wheaton caught a mid ball over Pittsburgh defenseman AJ Woods in the second quarter for the Mountaineers’ first points and scored another touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Daniels also came very close to leading a streak of tying goals after the Panthers took a 38-31 lead with just over two minutes left in the fourth. The Mountaineers went to Pittsburgh 28, but faced a 4th-and-16 with 27 seconds left. Daniels then attempted a pass to Reese Smith on a post route between three Panthers defenders.

Smith carried the ball low just short of the goal line, but after originally being called a catch, the pass was ruled incomplete, allowing Pittsburgh to kneel the clock.

“Reese was one-on-one with a guy who couldn’t see the ball,” Daniels said. “Pitt was playing two deep safeties. So the ball had to be thrown over the back shoulder, or a low dipping ball, and it would have been a safe catch. I wish it was five to six inches taller.

Although Daniels was critical of himself on that final play, he and his teammates didn’t let the ‘what could have been’ mindset stay with them, despite the fact that the Mountaineers also tallied six drops and a fumble in the contest.

West Virginia will continue to be positive heading into Saturday’s home opener against Kansas. Seven different receivers caught passes from Daniels for a total of 214 yards. Ford-Wheaton had a game-high nine receptions for 97 yards to pair with his two touchdowns, while Sam James recorded 50 yards on five catches.

Daniels and the receiver rotation will need to stay sharp against the Jayhawks’ four-man defense, led by All-Big 12 safety Kenny Logan.

“I think we did a good job for the most part with the spacing and detailing of our routes,” Daniels said. “We capitalized on a lot of big plays, and there were a few that we were really close on. I think in general (the performance) was really good. It’s just something that gets better playing against good defensive backs.

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