MORGANTOWN — In the span of six month, West Virginia moved from the back of college football’s arms race to three steps closer to the front.
Sources told the Gazette-Mail Monday the program has hired former quarterback Mike Burchett as an offensive analyst and former linebacker Casey Vance as a defensive analyst. They join former NFL offensive lineman and WVU graduate assistant Dan Gerberry, the senior analyst who was hired after the 2016 season ended.
In six months, the Mountaineers went from zero analysts to three and made important strides in preparation, scouting and time allotment. Coach Dana Holgorsen said in March that WVU intended to use analysts to assist the coaching staff with quick and smooth transitions from one opponent to the next.
“I think it’s really good to have somebody who doesn’t deal with the day-to-day coaching and can sit there and work ahead and gather information on who our opponents are and give that information to the coaches,” Holgorsen said before the start of spring practice. “There are only so many hours in the day to get ready for the next opponent. That’s where I see it being really important.”
In May, WVU posted a job listing for two analysts and stated job functions would include creating scouting reports, evaluating game film to compile advance statistics and build game plans, charting statistics during practices and games, assisting the coaches with on-campus recruiting, taking part in the Mountaineer Athletic Club’s fundraising activities and assisting the team’s “Life Skills coordinator” with developmental programs.
Holgorsen had wanted to add analysts for the past few years, and athletic director Shane Lyons believed the time was right for the athletic department to accommodate additions with defined roles and expectations.
“Our revenue stream from the Big 12 is a lot different than it used to be in the old Big East, so it’s a matter of looking at how we’re going to put resources toward the program and make it work,” Lyons said at the time. “This is one of the things we continued to talk about, and it seems like now is the right time to add one or two and keep moving forward with it and see what happens.
Burchett transferred from Kentucky to WVU and was a backup who did not play in the 2011 season, which was Holgorsen’s first with the Mountaineers. He later transferred to Kentucky’s Centre College and spent a semester there before moving back to Kentucky to finish his degree. He’d been a graduate assistant since 2015, and in both seasons he was more or less the quarterbacks coach. The Mountaineers didn’t have one on the staff, and Holgorsen was essentially the head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
The timing is ideal for Burchett. WVU hired Jake Spavital to be the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in January, and Holgorsen has made it clear the offense belongs to Spavital, the former offensive coordinator at Cal and Texas A&M and before that a quarterbacks coach at WVU.
Vance was also a defensive graduate assistant with the Mountaineers, and he worked under defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. Vance, from Seneca Rocks, played 23 games in the 2010-11 seasons. He started seven times in his senior year and finished with 30 tackles and four tackles for a loss. He emerged as a favorite of Jeff Casteel when he was the defensive coordinator coaching the 3-3-5, the alignment Gibson has personalized in his three years as Holgorsen’s defensive coordinator.