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No decisions yet on position battles

MORGANTOWN, WVa. -- With just five days remaining in the pre-classes portion of West Virginia's fall camp, Dana Holgorsen says he's not made any decisions in regard to the myriad position battles that are being waged.

Well, that's probably not entirely true. After all, it was just a few days ago that Holgorsen said he hadn't decided on a starting quarterback and that even when he does, "I don't know if I'll tell you or not.''

It's logical to assume that other positions will be treated the same.

Still, he does make a reasonable point in regard to competition. Much of what he and his staff are looking for at all spots is consistency, and that can only be gauged with time.

"There are a lot of position battles that are ongoing and will be throughout this week. I'm not making any decisions this week on any of the starters,'' Holgorsen said Monday after a light morning workout that was to be followed by a padded practice in the afternoon. "Any time you have six more practices and a week of camp, things can change pretty drastically.

"Guys have good days and bad days. You're looking for guys that can consistently put a couple of good days together, and we're starting to figure out who those guys are. If the guys have a bad day, then they need to regroup pretty quickly if they want to be in the hunt for the starting job or a backup role. That's where we are.''

While the quarterback battle between juniors Paul Millard and Clint Trickett and redshirt freshman Ford Childress is certainly the most high-profile position fight, it's certainly not the only one. In fact, who snaps the ball to the quarterback and who he hands off to and throws to - essentially every ball-handling job on the offense - is just as much up in the air.

The running backs and receivers will continue to fight for playing time, but the center's job has to be decided. Holgorsen said Monday that Tyler Orlosky has the edge now over Tony Matteo. Both are 6-foot-4, 296-pound redshirt freshmen.

"Tyler Orlosky has been doing well. He has the upper hand right now,'' Holgorsen said. "We're playing about 10 bodies on the offensive line and it would be 11 if we had [injured guard] Adam Pankey, but he's a ways away.

"I think Orlosky has the upper hand at center right now. It is between him and Tony Matteo. Those are the two that are taking the majority of the reps and we are talking about two redshirt freshmen there. Both of them have a lot of growing to do. Tyler is probably a little bit ahead physically.''

Entering camp, the wild card in that battle was junior college transfer Stone Underwood. But that's no longer the case. Underwood has been moved, at least temporarily, to guard.

"It's tough to come in at center without any spring practice or a year under your belt,'' Holgorsen said of the 6-4, 285-pound Underwood. "Physically, the game is different here than what he's used to. And then you add the pressure of making calls and snapping, as well as the battle you have to play each and every snap. It's hard.

"He has a redshirt year that we may use, but we'll figure that out down the road. We moved him to guard because we needed another guard body on the second team and physically he's doing good things. He's making progress, but we felt like he would make more progress right now for us at guard rather than center.''

  • BRIEFLY: Underwood isn't the only player to make a position switch. Sophomore Garrett Hope was moved from linebacker to fullback. That apparently gives the Mountaineers three good options there with Cody Clay, freshman Elijah Wellman and Hope.
  • West Virginia's coaches permitted the media to get just a glimpse of the No. 1 offense working against the No. 1 defense Monday and there weren't a lot of surprises. The three quarterbacks split the snaps with the first offense, with Clint Trickett getting the first shot.
  • If the Mountaineers were to trot out the Monday lineups for the opening game Aug. 31 against William & Mary, the only offensive starters who were not at the top of the depth chart when fall practice began would be receivers Mario Alford and Ronald Carswell. Kevin White, expected to be a starting receiver, missed practice with an injury.

    On defense, the biggest move has probably been by Georgia Military transfer Brandon Golson, who started at linebacker. Everyone else on defense was a veteran to some degree.

  • As Holgorsen was ending his Monday morning media briefing, the sound of Kenny Chesney's "Boys of Fall'' began coming from the adjacent weight room. Holgorsen perked up and talked not only about the song, but the football video that goes with it, which ends with Bear Bryant in the Alabama locker room. He showed it to his team Monday morning.
  • "I asked our team, 'How many of you guys know who this last guy was?' '' Holgorsen said. "About 10 to 15 percent of our team raised their hand. I go, 'You gotta be kidding me?' Eighty-five percent of our team didn't know who Bear Bryant was? We've just got to educate them.''

    Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

     


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