Questions loom as WVU camp ends
MORGANTOWN — West Virginia finished 17 days of preseason camp Saturday with a depth chart beginning to take a more concrete shape, but still with plenty of unanswered questions about every facet of its team — offense, defense and specialists.
In truth, Saturday’s camp-ending scrimmage perhaps raised more questions than it answered. For instance:
n The No. 1 defense bent but didn’t break. But that bending was a concern.
“They buckled down in the red zone,’’ first-year defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “That was good to see, but we’re certainly not there yet.’’
n The first-team offense moved the ball well at times, but couldn’t score. In five possessions during a 50-minute period of the scrimmage open to the media, the No. 1 offense had five positions from a variety of field positions and couldn’t score. Twice the offense either ran out of downs or time, once quarterback Clint Trickett was intercepted by K.J. Dillon and two drives ended with field goal attempts.
Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson didn’t seem particularly concerned, however.
“There are days when the defense does good and days when you do good,’’ Dawson said. “I thought the defense responded and had a pretty good day.’’
n And then there were those special teams. The only one really on display was the field goal unit at the end of those two stalled offensive drives. But sophomore kicker Josh Lambert missed both. One was a 50-yarder with plenty of length, but wide right. The other was a shanked chip shot.
“He’s got to be more consistent,’’ said special teams coach Joe DeForest. “It’s disappointing and I let him know that.’’
It was pretty much a full, healthy squad that took part in the scrimmage, which consisted of alternating possessions with ones against ones and twos against twos. The No. 1 offense seemed at full strength, although transfer tailback Rushel Shell, considered perhaps the best of a deep bunch, was held out.
“He took one on the quad [Friday] night and so a just took it easy on him,’’ said running backs coach JaJuan Seider. “Besides, I’ve seen enough from him and I wanted to see how the others responded.’’
Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood both worked with the No. 1 offense, while Dustin Garrison, Andrew Buie and freshman Donte Thomas-Williams worked with the twos. Thomas-Williams got a considerable amount of work, although it still seems likely he will be redshirted if possible.
“It’s hard enough to get the other five guys in,’’ Seider said. “You don’t want to throw away a kid’s redshirt if he’s not going to play.’’
On defense, a handful of players either sat out or played little. Freshman safety Dravon Henry was dressed in a green medical jersey and didn’t participate, giving all of the first-team reps at free safety to sophomore Jeremy Tyler. DeForest, who also coaches the safeties, wouldn’t say why Henry didn’t scrimmage.
Brandon Golson didn’t play, either, leaving the linebackers with the No. 1 defense Edward Muldrow and Wes Tonkery on the outside and Nick Kwiatkoski in the middle. According to Gibson, who also coaches the position, the final mix of linebackers who will play probably includes those four, Isaiah Bruce, Al-Rasheed Benton and perhaps one other.
For the most part, the other positions on both sides of the ball remained pretty much as they have been since the beginning of camp. The defensive line has been shuffled some — Christian Brown played as the back-up nose tackle instead of at end — but the players are the same. Kyle Rose was the nose with the No. 1 defense, flanked by Noble Nwachukwu and Dontrill Hyman, while Shaquille Riddick and Eric Kinsey bordered Brown with the No. 2 group.
Travis Bell played cornerback with the No. 1 defense during the open portion of the scrimmage, but cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell said the job is still wide open. Daryl Worley is the other corner and Karl Joseph and K.J. Dillon are the other safeties.
On offense, there were no surprises at all. The line was as it has been all camp — tackles Adam Pankey and Marquis Lucas, guards Quinton Spain and Mark Glowinski and center Tyler Orlosky — and the receivers who rotate in were Mario Alford, Kevin White, Daikiel Shorts and Jordan Thompson.
Behind Trickett at quarterback, Paul Millard and freshman William Crest alternated with the second offense.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or email@example.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.