"He's done a great job of jelling with the team,'' Edwards said. "He's very smart, talented, a joy to be around. He's very excited about the opportunity he has. We expect him to be a big part of our offensive success.''
Alexander's presence under center and Switzer's departure dictate a fresh start for GW's offense. Another potential noteworthy change for the Patriots' attack, however, seems to have dissipated.
Former Nitro and WVU Tech coach Scott Tinsley, who according to published reports was serving as an assistant coach for GW during some of its early work in the three-week practice period, is currently not a part of Edwards' staff.
Tinsley has long been considered one of the state's top offensive minds, and tutored a pair of Kennedy Award winners in quarterback J.R. House and running back Josh Culbertson.
Edwards did not want to comment on the situation, and GW principal George Aulenbacher did not return calls from the Gazette.
In recent years, the Patriots have immersed themselves in 7-on-7 drills during the three-week out-of-season practice period, and this year was no exception. GW participated in five such workouts - two in Huntington and one each in Morgantown, Point Pleasant and Concord University.
Edwards said those pass-heavy drills can help identify some new possibilities at the skill positions as the Patriots seek to replace their starting quarterback (Trevor Bell), tailback (Switzer), fullback (Crouser) and top three receivers.
"We lost a lot of guys and we lost a lot of experience,'' Edwards said. "We kept our competitive edge [this summer] by competing as much as we could, and we've done pretty well. I'm pleased with the progress we're making with the club. I'm pleased we're getting great effort. They're eager to learn and they know they have big shoes to fill. Right now they're answering the call, but we don't have anybody going 11 on 11 yet.
"The thing about it is that we're doing it a little bit different these three weeks because of the lack of two-a-days that we're going to miss [in August]. We won't have that extra time to use.''
Kanawha County students report to classes on Aug. 9, four days after practice opens, which cuts out about a week of extended workouts that teams had utilized in the past. Teachers report full time on Aug. 6.
"It's a strain on you,'' Edwards said, "[so] we're trying to take advantage of more opportunities to put things in. It makes you think about it a little more, and do what you have to do. We'll do the best we can. It's always a challenge, and we'll have to adapt.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.