MORGANTOWN - That Tyler Urban's role in West Virginia's offense has changed is plain to see.
There's a huge difference between playing tight end in an offense that seemed to ignore the position and slot receiver in a pass-friendly scheme.
There's a lot more to it, though, than just where Urban lines up and his vastly increased chances of catching thrown balls in Dana Holgorsen's offense. He's had a big adjustment to make, too, in blocking - both mentally and physically.
"During spring ball it was a lot for me. They [the defenders he had to block] were a lot shiftier,'' Urban said. "The best thing to do is when you get out there you have to relax a little bit and just focus. You don't just rush out there because they're going to do some quick maneuver to get around you.''
Here's the deal: When Urban was lined up next to an offensive tackle in a three-point stance, his blocking responsibilities were generally confined to a defensive end or a linebacker. Generally it was a pretty even match because those guys tend to be in the same stature range as the 6-foot-5, 251-pound Urban.
Now he's lined up typically 10 yards away from the tackle, running routes. Out there are usually safeties, linebackers quick enough to be in coverage or even cornerbacks.
None of them are in a three-point stance within whisper range, as was the case at tight end.
"I had a couple conversations with him about it and in the spring it was probably an adjustment,'' inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson said. "He even told me a couple of times how much tougher it was to block out there in open space than inside with your hand on the ground where [the defender] is right there over you. But blocking at receiver is a lot about effort, and Tyler gives great effort.''
Urban has also found that his former perceptions about what it was receivers did in terms of blocking were wrong.
"I used to complain to them during camp because I had to run and block linemen. They were just out there, maybe blocking a corner every once in a while,'' Urban said. "But Coach Holgorsen, he likes the contact. He doesn't like you [using cut blocks]. He wants you to stay up and get after them.''
There's a lot of blocking to be done out there, too, on running plays, screens and downfield after the ball is thrown. Unlike at tight end, Urban and the other wideouts have to search out a blocking victim rather than having the defender come at them.
"But the thing about blocking out there is you don't have to have a killer block to be successful,'' Dawson said. "The ball carrier just has to be able to make a play. You just can't get beat, totally beat.''