The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 24, 2013

CB could be answer in secondary

MORGANTOWN — When the spring started, Travis Bell had a whole lot working against him.

Over the winter, he had been arrested on a domestic violence charge, which normally doesn’t sit well with football coaches, who prefer to see their defensive players throwing ball carriers around rather than girlfriends.

Having been disciplined, he had hoped to show what he could do on the field at West Virginia University, but he had a shoulder injury.

“We didn’t think he was able to participate in the spring,” defensive coordinator Keith Patterson admitted.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t the subject of some discussion among the coaching staff.

Patterson had watched his cornerbacks perform last year, and it was, to be quite honest, unacceptable as the Mountaineers gave up 39.5 points a game.

To make matters worse, they hadn’t signed any new cornerbacks, believing that since it was a young group that it could be coached to be better.

Travis Bell was a safety, and as they talked about him in the spring, they thought it might not be a waste of time to try him at the corner.

“It was something Brian brought to my attention and Coach Gibson and I talked about it,” Patterson said

Brian is Brian Mitchell, who last year was defensive coordinator at East Carolina and has come over to coach the corners and does so with a clean slate, while Coach Gibson is Tony Gibson, the safeties coach, also in his first year back at WVU after having served under Rich Rodriguez.

This was one of those “what have we got to lose” things. Safety, with Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph, is one of the strongest positions on the team, meaning if Bell could contribute at corner it would be a huge step forward.

He stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 188 pounds, which is not particularly big, but is bigger than most of the corners on the roster.

“We’re trying to get more length out of all our guys. He brings something a little bit different to the table, and that was the topic of discussion,” Patterson said. “He brings size. He’s physical. He’s explosive. He has a chance to break on the football. I’m looking for big things from him.”

All they needed to do was get him on the field, but that looked like it might not come until August.

Then, two practices before the spring game, the word came down that Bell was cleared to play.

“Once he was given the green light, we made the change,” Patterson said.

And so it was with no small amount of surprise to a media that is not allowed to watch practice that Bell showed up at corner for the spring game, and more of a surprise when he made the game’s only interception and one of the biggest hits.

If the untrained eyes of the media or public thought they had discovered something, head coach Dana Holgorsen was not so fast to welcome him as a potential player at the corner.

“We made the switch two days ago. He may be there full time. We’ll evaluate,” Holgorsen said.

But the tackle? The interception?

“He made one play where the receiver just forgot to block him. I probably could have made that play,” said Holgorsen. “On his interception, he undercut it, but the ball was so under-thrown that I’m not saying I could have made that one but I would have been in position.”

Maybe back in the day Holgorsen could have done those things, but now?

“My point is, we will study the film for different things. He’s embraced the change, and he’s excited about it. He’s not a 210-pound kid; he weighs about 180 pounds. He can run fast, and he has great conditioning. It is an experiment that we talked about a week ago, and we moved him. We’ll keep looking into it,” the coach said.

Patterson is hopeful.

“Right now it looks like he could benefit our team,” the coordinator said.

If this doesn’t work out, of course, they could always put Holgorsen back there.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: MLB All-Star game biggest celebration of top athletes

    You will pardon me if I find something else to do when the Pro Bowl rolls around, or if I try to find a “Three Stooges” marathon when it’s time for the NHL All-Star game. As for the NBA All-Star game, I’d rather watch a replay of a four-year-old Uruguay-Ethiopia World Cup soccer match in which I knew the outcome.
     

    July 14, 2014

  • Howes learns to ‘never settle’ as WVU administrator

    You probably don’t know much about Terri Howes, even though she is a rather high-ranking executive in the West Virginia University athletic department.
    “I like it that way,” she said, sitting in a large office at the Coliseum, decorated with pictures and memorabilia, a jar of candy sitting by the door for visitors to dip into.

    July 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads