MORGANTOWN - The question was pretty straight forward and the answer was even more direct and to the point.
Shannon Dawson, one of two new wide receivers coaches at West Virginia, had just gotten his first real look at what he has to work with this spring. Well aware that in order to have the type of pass-happy offense he and new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen envision, he was asked how he might take someone like Tavon Austin or Brad Starks or Stedman Bailey or J.D. Woods - anyone, really - and make him a 100-catch receiver.
Ready for the intricate answer?
"Throw the ball more to him,'' Dawson said in all seriousness.
Well, yeah, that would probably be a pretty good start.
A year ago, West Virginia threw the football 382 times. Believe it or not, that was the third-highest total in school history. In 1998, an offense quarterbacked by Marc Bulger threw the ball 433 times. In 1981, Oliver Luck was the quarterback on a team that heaved the ball 404 times.
But not even in those seasons did a WVU receiver even approach 100 catches. David Saunders and Shawn Foreman share the record with 77 - Saunders in 1998 and Foreman the season before that. Geno Smith became only the third Mountaineer quarterback to complete more than 200 passes in a season last year, and Jock Sanders led the receivers with 69 catches.
So catching 100 passes in a season is obviously no small feat. Then again, in this new offense the school record of 433 pass attempts in a season might fall in mid-November, so those receivers are going to have a lot more opportunities.
"At Oklahoma State, I think [Justin] Blackmon caught 19 balls the year before and then he caught 120-some balls,'' Dawson said of the Oklahoma State receiver who won the Biletnikoff Award playing in Holgorsen's offense last season. "You think he was thrown the same number of balls and only caught 19 of them? He got more balls thrown to him.''
For the record, Blackmon caught 20 passes the year before Holgorsen installed his offense and 111 (for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns) in 2010. His is not an isolated incident, either. When Holgorsen was working with Mike Leach at Texas Tech, Wes Welker caught 86 and 97 passes his last two seasons and Michael Crabtree caught 134 as a redshirt freshman.
Dawson, meanwhile, tutored Duane Brooks at Stephen F. Austin and he had 118 catches in 2009.