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Holgorsen opens tap on WVU team info

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The Tuesday press conference of WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen began like many in the past.

News dripped. There was no news on the quarterback battle between Mountaineers Clint Trickett and Paul Millard. There was the obligatory coachspeak concerning opening opponent William & Mary.

Then something happened. Holgorsen opened up about his team perhaps like never before. For once, the news drip became an open spigot.

And it was refreshing.

As mentioned, Holgorsen touched on his prolonged QB battle, which has whittled but one: Ford Childress.

"We'll rep two [quarterbacks] this week," Holgorsen said. "Paul and Clint will get 50 percent of the reps. We'll still keep Ford ready to go. I feel good about having three quarterbacks we feel can get out there and play ball.

"Who is going to start? I don't know. Either Paul or Clint will start. The other one will play. Potentially, all three will play."

Then came the rush of news. And it began simply, with Holgorsen being asked about the health of receiver Kevin White.

"Injury report," Holgorsen said. "All right."

And off he went. If you've followed WVU preseason news you know all have raved about White. Yet when the latest depth chart was released, White, the junior college transfer, was No. 2 at the Z position behind K.J. Myers.

"Kevin White is questionable [for the William & Mary game]," Holgorsen said. "He's got a foot problem."

He continued.

"Mario Alford is questionable. He's got a foot problem."

Alford, in case you're unaware, was expected to start the day he signed. One recruiting service ranked him the nation's No. 1 junior college receiver. He does not appear on the current depth chart. Later in the press conference, though, Holgorsen said Alford would indeed play on Saturday.

Then came the bombshell.

"Andrew Buie is redshirting," Holgorsen said.

While the move makes sense, it was still surprising. All Buie did last year was lead the Mountaineers in rushing with 851 yards and tied for the team lead in touchdowns with seven. (Hello, Charles Sims.)

"He had some decisions," Holgorsen said. "Some are decisions he made as well. Did we force him to [redshirt]? No. We felt it was in the best interest of him and in the best interest of the program."

Holgorsen added that Buie has "just got to develop mentally and physically, and we'll leave it at that. He's not going to play this year. I fully expect him to be ready to roll in the spring."

More news?

"Shelton Gibson is redshirting," said the coach.

Gibson was simply the gem of the most recent Mountaineer recruiting class. The Cleveland Heights, Ohio, receiver was set back early in camp with a knee issue. But he turned down Tennessee, Florida and Ohio State to join WVU.

"d'Vante Henry is redshirting," Holgorsen continued.

How highly regarded was Henry? There was a belief within WVU's inner circle that the 6-foot-5 linebacker just might start at the spur position this season. According to Holgorsen, though, the junior college transfer joined the team late because of "personal issues."

The updates came at a fast and furious pace.

"[Freshman safety] Isaac McDonald is another guy. Came in late and isn't ready to play," Holgorsen said. "[Linebacker] Darrien Howard is here now. Doesn't look like he's ready to play, but we haven't had him one day in pads yet. So I don't know where he's at."

Both were NCAA Clearinghouse cases. Howard was ranked the nation's No. 9 inside linebacker by ESPN.

"Malik Greaves is going to redshirt," said the coach.

Greaves hit WVU in the spring after turning down Auburn and Wisconsin.

Holgorsen took a breath to say "redshirts can get pulled," then continued.

"Eli Wellman is going to redshirt," he said. "Jacky Marcellus is going to redshirt. Stone Underwood, [Marcell] Lazard, [Tyler] Tezeno, [Grant] Lingafelter, all those guys are going to redshirt. Which means the program is in pretty good shape depth-wise. If you can get all those guys to develop for a year - and not burn a year - you're in pretty good shape."

Wellman was WVU's lone 2013 Mountain State scholarship signee. It was hoped Underwood, a junior college transfer, could at least provide depth at center. Lazard, an offensive lineman, turned down Florida, Miami, Michigan and Ohio State to sign with the Mountaineers. Tezeno, another offensive lineman, turned down LSU. 

Linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton?

"He's right now planning on redshirting."

The news continued to gush.

"Shaq Petteway had surgery Friday [on his left knee]," said the coach.

Petteway was sort of a wild card for defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who was toying with making Petteway an inside linebacker in the spring.

Holgorsen cut loose of more injury updates.

 "Nana [Kyeremeh] is recovering well [from shoulder surgery]," said the coach. "Adam Pankey is progressing ahead of schedule. He'll probably not play this week, but he's progressing pretty good."

Through spring Kyeremeh had been manning one of the starting cornerback positions. The knee injury to Pankey, a 6-5, 323-pound redshirt freshman, was seen as a blow in the spring.

Holgorsen spoke of the freshmen scheduled for playing time.

"Daryl Worley, Jeremy Tyler, Marvin Gross, Daikiel Shorts and Wendell Smallwood are technically true freshmen that we're anxious to get out there," Holgorsen said.

Worley and Tyler, both safeties, are surprises, if you go by recruiting resumes. Ditto receiver Shorts and running back Smallwood.

"Not as many freshmen are on [the depth chart] as last year," Holgorsen said. "If you remember, we had eight to 10 freshmen defensively.

"Can't wait to see those guys get out there and see what they've got. See which guys are going to respond to a game atmosphere: 65,000 in the stands and national TV."

Likewise, it will be interesting to see receiver Ivan McCartney, who left the team and returned. If you remember, McCartney was once one of WVU's most highly regarded signees and compared himself to a cross between his cousin, Chad Johnson, and Andre Johnson, former and current NFL stars.

"[McCartney has] had a good camp," Holgorsen said. "He's been able to maintain relative health, which has always been one of his issues. Has he had sore limbs over the last three weeks? Yes. Has he let that stop him? No. And that's different than the way it was the first two years I was here."

It was an informative, refreshing Holgorsen press conference - even when the coach was speaking of a sore subject: the lack of production at slot receiver.

"Jordan Thompson is healthy and will play," Holgorsen said. "Mario [Alford] is getting better and will play. Devonte Mathis has impressed me in the last week and a half and will play. So we have four guys that can go to inside receiver and play.

"But the deeper we are at running back the more we like using two backs or three backs or two backs and two tight ends, or two backs and one tight end, or a running back, H-back and tight end ... There's a whole bunch of stuff we can put in the game that takes away snaps from the inside receivers. It takes away from the importance of being two deep at the inside receiver. It's more important to be two deep outside - which we aren't."

On this day what Holgorsen was, however, was candid. The tap was open.

Just in time for Saturday's opening day.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.

 


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