The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 6, 2008

COLUMN: What will WVU ‘balance’ really mean?

MORGANTOWN — The words had barely passed through Jeff Mullen’s lips and begun resonating through the dining area of the Milan Puskar Center that was housing a pre-spring football media luncheon.

So startling was this proclamation from West Virginia’s new offensive coordinator that you expected to hear an audible gasp, if not downright laughter from those who have chronicled WVU football.

“I believe in balance,” Mullen had said as he began outlining the offensive philosophy he brings with him from Wake Forest.

Balance? What’s balance?

In West Virginia, you balance a checkbook, not an offense.

Balance is for acrobats and tightrope walkers.

In football, you run the ball.

At least that’s how it was. In an ideal world, Mullen would actually throw the football.

“You see teams that are this high in running and this low in passing or this high in passing and this low in rushing statistically. They win a lot of football games, but it’s very hard to win a championship,” he explained.

Did he not hear that West Virginia rushed for 3,864 yards last year and passed for 2,067? That it rushed for as many as 517 yards in a game last year, but never passed for as many as 250 yards? That it ran the ball 628 times and threw it 265?


Did he know that over the past two years, WVU had rushed for 7,803 yards and passed for 4,126 yards?

If they were off-balance, so, too, were the defenses because WVU scored 133 touchdowns and 1,020 points in two years.

When all this was brought up to Mullen, he made a bit of an admission about talking about balance on this team.

“That’s coach talk,” he finally said.

The truth is, every coach wants balance because it causes problems for opponents in preparation, but you do what you have to do to win, and at West Virginia, that has been run, run, run.

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Bob Herzel
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