MORGANTOWN - West Virginia coach Bill Stewart proclaimed he is not a "dead man walking," while head-coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen said he might look at slot man Tavon Austin at tailback next season and added quarterback Geno Smith is progressing well from his foot injury.
The Mountaineer football coaches met the media at a gathering Tuesday at WVU's Touchdown Terrace. A tentative pre-spring depth chart was released (see Page 2B). Stewart and Holgorsen attended, as well as the entire WVU staff. Among the highlight quotes:
"Our No. 1 objective is chemistry," Stewart said. "There are a lot of people out there saying I am a dead man walking. I don't agree with that. I think we are professionals here. I have a great staff and am very blessed with tremendous players, coaches and administration. Our chemistry has to be one of high value. Every football team has to have great chemistry. If you don't have that, nothing you do is going to matter."
"He's good,'' Holgorsen said of Smith, the incumbent at quarterback. "He'll be in a boot for another couple of weeks. Then they'll take the boot off and he'll start doing some stuff. I suspect when he gets back from spring break we'll test him that Sunday night. How he tests out will determine how many reps he gets. There are two other kids there [Brian Athey and Paul Millard] that deserve a lot of reps too. You have to have a backup.
"Geno isn't expected to take every snap as it is. He may take 33 percent of the snaps. As the spring goes on, that may increase to 66 percent."
"The two tackles [Don Barclay and Jeff Braun], we're not going to be able to evaluate those guys in the spring [because of shoulder surgeries]," Holgorsen said. "That will allow guys like Quinton Spain and Pat Eger to get a bunch of reps, develop and [provide] competition in the fall."
Holgorsen on whether he'd consider using slot receiver Tavon Austin at tailback:
"Maybe. I might. We have to see what his skills are. He's done that before. We have a couple of guys we recruited [tailbacks Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison] that are Tavon Austin kind of guys. They are light-on-their-feet kind of guys. We won't have them in the spring, but when we get them in camp, we'll be able to see."