MORGANTOWN - If you chose not to watch the NFL draft (and Roger Goodell getting booed), West Virginia's Gold-Blue game wasn't a bad alternative.
Especially if you're a Mountaineer fan. And especially if you weren't a Mountaineer fan of former offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen.
There were plenty of standout players. Quarterback Geno Smith picked apart the No. 2 defense. Left tackle Quinton Spain, playing in place of injured Don Barclay, pancaked two defenders on one run play. Ryan Nehlen, he of the gold shoes, apparently has shockingly shoved aside Ivan McCartney as a starting receiver - and shined Friday. With Shawne Alston injured, true freshman Vernard Roberts sparkled at tailback with 64 rushing and 41 receiving yards. Stedman Bailey had touchdowns of 67 and 47. Defensive tackle Julian Miller looked good. Back Trey Johnson and receiver Willie Milhouse raised a few eyebrows.
But the star of the game was undoubtedly new offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Dana Holgorsen.
Want testimony from a star witness?
Well, former Mountaineer quarterback Pat White was in town for the Old-Timers contest and waited around to see the 83-17 Gold romp. He was asked about the look of the new offense.
He pointed to the scoreboard. Twice.
"It was fun," he said.
Sure, the No. 1 offense was going against the No. 2 defense, but the explosion was still impressive. More than impressive. A whopping total of 683 passing yards on 40-of-70 passing. (Can you say "Air Raid"?) A total of 838 offensive yards. Smith completed 26-of-37 passes for 388 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Oh yes, and 83 points for the Gold team, although teams not only scored six points for touchdowns, etc., but defenses earned points for stops, interceptions, etc.
Almost all of the Gold points, though, were from Smith and company.
"I don't even know how the scoring system worked," Holgorsen said. "They asked me if I cared and I said, 'I could care less.' It's not about that. It's about getting guys in position to make plays. We put them in position to make plays. That's the best part. They did a decent job tonight."
One could say that. One must also take into consideration the outburst was with two offensive line starters - Barclay and Jeff Braun - out all spring after shoulder surgeries. Also, the previous starter at tailback, Alston, was missing from this game.
Holgorsen was asked if he has a pretty good grasp of his personnel after the spring drills.
"Yes, and I'm excited about getting about six, seven, eight more linemen in August and two or three more receivers in August and two or three more running backs in August,'' said the OC. "So we're far from evaluating what our total personnel is."
After this one?
"I could watch some tape and see some things that irk me, but [the offensive players] seemed fired up," Holgorsen said. "We put guys in position to make plays and they made plays. I'm happy with that."
The outburst not only had WVU fans smiling, but Holgorsen as well.
"It was the best spring game I've been a part of," he said. "Shoot, there were people running around all day. Couldn't even find a dang parking space when I came over here. I had to illegally park. I've probably been towed by now.''
On Friday night, though, it was Holgorsen that gave WVU fans a lift.
As mentioned, there's been a development within the No. 1 receiving corps. Nehlen, son of WVU equipment manager Danny and grandson of ex-Mountaineer coach Don, has leaped past former five-star recruit McCartney. Some of which can be attributed to his leaping ability.
"Heck yeah," Holgorsen said when asked if Nehlen has moved ahead of McCartney. "Who made more plays? I mean, one guy made a bunch. One guy didn't. So guess what?"