West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen addressed the media after his teams 11th overall practice of the summer and is very pleased with the progress that the Mountaineers are making with each practice. “I feel real good about where we are at. We are making progress on all three sides of the ball, and we are maintaining health in the meantime.” While maintaining health is very important for any football team, this year’s WVU team has the rare accommodation of depth on both sides of the ball.
Heading into this summer the WVU coaching staff had high hopes that running back Rushel Shell would be the Mountaineers cow bell at the position but it seems that isn’t happening at the moment. “Not yet but I know he has it in him. He’s a physical, determined kid who doesn’t play like that all the time and it’s my job to get him to do that starting in game one.” The hope was that Shell would become an all around force for WVU but there are areas he needs to improve on before the start of the season. “It’s probably a little bit of everything. It’s easier for Wendell to do that, because of how involved he is with the pass game,” but Holgorsen made it clear that he isn’t by any means disappointed in Shell’s workouts. “I am not disappointed in him whatsoever but I want to see him be dominant every time we give him the ball.”
The burning question on every WVU fan’s mind after last season is how will replace Kevin White and Mario Alford with Shelton Gibson seeming to be that prospect. “He’s made referencing to me in passing that he wants to be the best that I ever coached” but with that personal pressure comes personal disappointment. “He’s put a lot of pressure on himself, and it means a lot to him. He tries really hard but there are times that he gets out of control. He is dropping balls because he is too tense but he has the ability to make any catch.” When asked of a situation that Holgorsen is reminded of he compares Gibson to former Texas Tech wide receiver Joe Filani who struggled during his first season but would become a two time all Big 12 player.
Sticking with the wide receiver position Holgorsen was quick to praise the work ethic and performance of the freshman. “If they develop, then they will be as good as any of the ones we’ve had, collectively.” Even though they have the potential there are other factors that will calculate into these freshman’s success. “That relationship with the quarterback has to develop. It has to be great timing. That is stuff you can’t coach. That is just stuff that has to happen over a period of time.”
The offensive line depth is another area that Holgorsen is very pleased with so far even though he isn’t sure how the rotation will pan out. “I have been happy with four of the backups. I have been happy with nine, but that doesn’t mean we are rotating nine at any stretch of imagination.” Kyle Bosch returned to practice this afternoon but will need to impress the staff in order to move back into the starting lineup. “Bosch came back yesterday, and he had a good day. He’s going to be in the mix for a starting position. I didn’t say he is starting. I said he is in the mix.” Holgorsen also pointed out several other players that have stood out during the practices. “Lingafelter been doing some good things, Underwood has been pretty solid, and Lazard has been doing well.
Holgorsen also believes that the pass rush will be much better this season with several standouts during the summer. “Our pass rush will be better. Noble Nwachukwu has looked good and Larry Jefferson has the twitch to get to the quarterback so I believe that we will be better. We are in a better place now than we were a year ago.”
The biggest news of the day however is that the Crest experiment is coming to an end with the talented player moving to the quarterback position for good. “William is getting a vast majority of those reps. He’s really done some good things here lately. I have been very happy with his progress. He’s doing some things that I have been happy with from a progress point of view and a backup quarterback is very important to a team.”