Not much from WVU scrimmage to lift expectations
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen might put some people off at times. Once in a while, though, he'll nail a quote.
Like on Saturday, after the Gold-Blue spring scrimmage game at Milan Puskar Stadium.
"I think it resembled football," Holgorsen said. "I don't think it resembled high-level football, but at least it looked like football."
That's about as far as one can go after the defense won a 41-33 decision over the offense on a cool, but sunny day.
Take a moment. Consider the above.
The Mountaineer offense lost to THAT defense - the one that was one of college football's worst last season.
One, however, had to enter the stadium understanding what was being presented. Mark my words: When the season gets under way, three receivers not yet in camp will be key Mountaineers - Ronald Carswell at "X" receiver and Mario Alford and Shelton Gibson at "Y." On defense, d'Vante Henry will challenge at Spur, Brandon Golson will do so at Buck and Al-Rasheed Benton will be in the mix at Will. Nick O'Toole will be your punter.
What we could watch Saturday was the running back position. Word is junior college transfer Dreamius Smith has been the best through spring drills. He flashed power early, carrying tacklers down the left sideline on his second carry. Overall, though, he was simply solid, gaining 38 yards on seven carries.
"He showed some flashes of some pretty good stuff [this spring]," Holgorsen said. "But we're asking more from him that he's used to [in regard to receiving and blocking]."
We saw that running back Dustin Garrison looks much better than he did last season following surgery.
We were able to watch the offensive line. Pat Eger, the projected starter at center, did not play because of an ankle injury. Tyler Orlosky and Tony Matteo filled in Saturday.
Overall, the offensive line was disappointing, allowing six "sacks," which were basically touches.
"It was discouraging the first team offensive line gave up as much pressure as it did," Holgorsen said.
"Poor technique at times," said new offensive line coach Ron Crook. "We've made some strides [rebuilding the line]. We're going in the right direction. But I'm glad we're not playing tomorrow."
Were they, the outlook would be bleak for the starting quarterback, whether it be Paul Millard (the current favorite), Ford Childress or the man at the game considering joining the competition, ex-Florida State QB Clint Trickett. (So you know, the media was discouraged from interviewing Trickett by WVU, which sent out NCAA Rule 13.10.5 to those attending. The rule says, "a member institution shall not publicize (or arrange for publicity of) a prospective student-athlete's visit to the institution's campus." Word, though, was the visit was going very well. Trickett is returning today to Tallahassee, Fla.)
Neither quarterback participating, though, wowed the crowd or showed separation from the other.
We were able to check out junior college transfer receiver Kevin White, who made a nice catch and run for a 46-yard touchdown off a screen and cut.
Otherwise? We saw kicker Josh Lambert miss his first two field goals - from 41 and 48 yards - before converting his last two from 39 and 47.
We saw defensive back-turned-receiver Vernon Davis get more touches than expected, one on an end around.
We saw the diamond formation with Smith, Garrison and Cody Clay.
We did see a glimpse of last season's Mountaineer defense. Childress hit a wide-open Jordan Thompson in the middle of the field for a 65-yard scorch and score.
"We missed a few tackles," said safeties coach Tony Gibson. "We have to improve on that."
We saw Travis Bell, who was moved to cornerback two days previous.
And we heard the jarring sounds of the "Air Raid" siren and train whistle.
Otherwise, there wasn't a lot to report. A nice crowd of approximately 8,000 attended. Some cash was donated to the WVU Children's Hospital.
I can offer a prediction: Clay, the George Washington High grad, will be a fan favorite along the lines of former fullback Owen Schmitt.
But not much emerged from the Gold-Blue game to ratchet the low expectations for the Mountaineers heading into next season.
Maybe Trickett will join the Mountaineers and help.
The incoming receivers could certainly make a difference.
Ditto the linebackers.
"The team we field in September is going to look a lot different," Holgorsen said.
As for that team performing on Saturday, though ... well, it did resemble a football team.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.