MORGANTOWN - After just one full-scale scrimmage, Jeff Casteel is still a long way away from proclaiming his retooled defense ready to play. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
This is going to take some time.
"I thought we competed pretty well, but we still have a long ways to go,'' West Virginia's defensive coordinator said Monday morning after the Mountaineers' 10th practice of the spring. "I think our effort is good and we're getting better a little at a time, but I don't think anywhere we're really ready to play yet as a defense.
"But we're getting better and we've gotten better since the first day. And they did some good things out here [Monday] that they haven't done yet. But we're definitely a work in progress.''
In Saturday's full scrimmage, the defense more than held its own against West Virginia's offense, which is undergoing an even more drastic makeover this spring. Whereas Casteel is simply trying to find new players to replace seven graduated starters in the same system, the offense is being completely redesigned under a new coaching staff.
But while Casteel is simply looking for players, he's not ready yet to say if anyone has jumped out at him after 10 of 15 spring practices.
"There isn't really one guy who has stood out. We're trying to do things as a group and we're still mixing and matching guys,'' Casteel said. "We're starting to see them do some things as a group, which is encouraging, but we still have a long way to go. I don't know that anyone has been a great surprise to us yet. We still have a lot of guys out there learning to compete every day.''
He did, however, mention a couple of names from among players who aren't yet spending much - if any - time with the first unit.
"Avery Williams is a kid with good feet. We're seeing him for the first time, so he's a surprise because we hadn't seen him,'' Casteel said of the true freshman defensive back. "A younger one that stands out is [junior college linebacker] Josh Francis, who's very explosive. He's so aggressive and he wants to take off on everything, but once he gets his eyes in a position to make some plays, he'll be OK. And [lineman] Jorge Wright is coming around and playing a little better. We're taking baby steps with these guys.''
Tyler Urban, the tight end being converted to a slot receiver, had another excellent practice Monday.
Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen has called him the most consistent of the receivers so far and that didn't change Monday.
"Even more so [Monday],'' Holgorsen said.