MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU strength coach Mike Joseph’s workouts may have been the biggest physical tests of some Mountaineers’ lifetimes this summer, but they are starting to pay off.
On the field – and on paper – the Mountaineers are simply bigger and stronger than last year.
“This is by far the most improvement we’ve seen size-wise,” special teams coordinator Jeff Koonz said. “You look at a guy like Jairo now who’s 221-222 pounds [after] he played at 214 pounds last year. [He] put on seven pounds of muscle and gained speed. Trey Lathan is sitting there at 226 pounds. He’s almost 11 pounds bigger than he played last year and faster.”
Dating back to the early summer months, players noted that the offseason workouts this past year were noticeably different, and more difficult, than at WVU in years past. Yet, there are very few complaints after the fact, if any.
“He puts us in tough situations to compete and grow as a team,” offensive lineman Ja’Quay Hubbard said over the summer. “In the summer, you have your whole roster. You really grow as a team the more sacrifices you have together, so making these workouts harder [has] been good. I can’t give you our secret recipe of what we’ve been doing, but just know it will prepare us come [September].”
Quarterbacks naturally have some extra down time during practice, but the arm can still take a beating on any given day. Someone has to throw the ball during receiver drills.
“We probably average around 150-200 balls a practice on a normal two-hour practice day,” quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan said.
Off the field, there is plenty of work to be done with Joseph in the arm-care department.
“Coach Mike has an unbelievable arm-care system that they go through multiple times a day,” Reagan said. “So we haven’t really had many arm troubles since I’ve been here at West Virginia because Coach Mike, he does a phenomenal job.”
Conditioning players is a necessary evil for coaches, but because players gained enough ground over the summer, coaches can concentrate on game-planning duties instead of gasser runs.
“Coach Mike Joseph and his staff did a phenomenal job getting those guys ready,” Koonz said.