More than just Switzer
CHARLESTON -- Even at this late stage of the season, George Washington's offense is still evolving.
With opposing defenses selling out to stop tailback Ryan Switzer's frequent bursts into and around the line of scrimmage, the Patriots are relying more and more on their other skill players as they make their way through the Class AAA playoffs.
They'll get another chance to show how far they've come when they host No. 11 Lewis County (9-2) at 7:30 Friday night at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in the quarterfinal round.
When senior fullback Dustin Crouser went down with a knee injury in the Capital game last month, GW turned to some of its other options to make up the difference.
Over the last three games, senior quarterback Trevor Bell has turned in his three highest passing totals of the season - 201 yards and two touchdowns against Columbus DeSales, 105 yards and a score against Parkersburg and last week, 191 yards and two TDs versus Hurricane in the opening round of the playoffs.
Bell has completed 31 of 41 attempts in those three games and has thrown just one interception in that stretch.
"I'm totally fine with that,'' Bell said. "I don't mind taking some of the pressure off Ryan and contributing through the air. Sure, we have great wide receivers here and a good running back in Trevon Johnson who can carry the ball. So we're all capable of carrying the load and taking some of it off Ryan.''
Johnson has become the team's de facto fullback, and helped whittle some time off the clock in Friday's 35-10 win over Hurricane, carrying nine times for 60 yards and a TD.
"He's kind of our power back, I guess you could call it,'' Switzer said. "When he gets the reps, and I go outside [as a receiver], they don't know if we're going to throw it every play. We're real balanced, and I'm proud of our guys for that.''
With Bell throwing more often to receivers like Jordan Clay, Switzer, Austin Giacomo and running back Jacob Jackson on screens, opposing defenses can't afford to stack eight, nine or even 10 players into the tackle box along the line of scrimmage.
"I mean, if they want to, they can,'' Switzer said. "But they're going to have to do a lot more than play us like [Hurricane] did.
"We're capable of throwing the ball. We played 7 on 7 all summer, and Trevor's a good quarterback. We've got wide receivers who can catch the ball. If a team makes us do it, we don't have any problem doing it.''
Bell said that well-rounded game plans like last Friday's could cause indecision on how future opponents will play GW.
"It's a win-win for us,'' Bell said. "Because if they do load up the box, it showed we are capable of throwing the ball. I'm sure teams down the road will see we can pass the ball and it will open up the middle for Ryan again. So either way, it's a win-win.''
Switzer's yardage totals have gone down a bit in recent weeks. After a then-season-low of 137 (for a full game) against Capital, his output dropped to 85 yards against DeSales and increased only to 105 against Hurricane. He also ran for just four TDs in those three games.
In the five games prior to that, Switzer averaged 291 yards on the ground with 18 rushing TDs. For the season, he's sitting at 2,076 yards.
Against Hurricane, he split out wide much of the second half and turned in a season-best six catches for 96 yards and two TDs. He played receiver much of his sophomore season since GW had a 2,000-yard rusher in 2010 in Felix Mollett.
"Everybody thinks George Washington's just Switzer,'' said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor, "but they've got other athletes over there. I'd love to have [Jackson and Giacomo], and their quarterback's not bad. He can run the ball some.
"When you play GW, you don't just play one player. You play a team, and they proved that after they lost Crouser. They've come on. We took away Switzer, so they did other things. They threw it to him, and made some nice adjustments.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.