MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Saturday afternoon saw Milan Puskar Stadium filled with the first glimpse of next season with the team’s annual Gold-Blue Game. The Mountaineers defense overtook the offense during the game but the head coach seemed to be pleased overall with the performance his players put on.
“Really happy with the way today turned out. We had a great crowd out there. I thought our players attacked it the right way. We’ve had five long weeks of football, and this was kind of more like a reward for them to be able to go out in front of a lot of people and have a game atmosphere.” The team played in front of a crowd of fans, family and many recruits; showcasing all that they have been working on this spring.
Dana Holgorsen took a new approach in speaking about injured players, an approach in that he was simply not discussing players who weren’t playing with the media. The head coach touched on that on Saturday when asked what was and was not going well for his team. “I think we’re going to be a completely different team (in) late August than we are right now. You guys know my injury policy right now, but there’s 20 guys in the weightroom that were not able to participate.”
The head coach is turning over play calling to his longtime friend and offensive coordinator, Jake Spavital and thus far seems pleased with the direction play calling is headed. “We’re in constant communication about what needs to happen and where we’re at and what we need to call and what the game plans are; I mean that’s not going to change. The thing that will be different in the game are the headsets (and) stuff. Where I think we had a delay of game where we were going for it on fourth down, where it’s going to be a little easier when I’m in his ear and I’m saying “you’ve got two downs here” or “be thinking about fourth down.” ”
Redshirt junior quarterback Will Grier has been a major topic of discussion across Mountaineer nation since his arrival in Morgantown and yesterday fans were finally able to catch him in action. Holgorsen’s reply to what he thought of Grier was full of typical Holgorsen commentary. ” . . . he looked pretty good to me. Did he look good to you? Yeah. He’s as good as advertised. I just like the kid’s demeanor. I mean, he’s got complete control of the huddle. It’s going to be different when it’s live bullets and he can get hit . . . If you watch that highlight tape from Florida, he’s running around making plays left and right. His dad is here, who is a coach and said, “Dana, you’ve got to make sure that he scrambles the throw because he gets so competitive he scrambles the run and we’ve got to protect him.” So we’ve been coaching that pretty hard.” Holgorsen is pleased with the redshirt quarterback and fans can start to breathe a sigh of relief after seeing that Grier really is as good as the highlight reels look.
Holgorsen is known for often having a trick or two up his sleeve, and yesterday’s spring game proved to be no different. Holgorsen had some of his former players get into the spring game yesterday and when asked by the media about it, his response was one for the books.
“Were you all bored? I got bored there in the fourth quarter. I’m sitting there looking at the sidelines going, “he’s made a whole bunch of plays, he’s made a whole bunch of plays, he’s made a whole bunch of plays … they’ve never played together.” So I said, “Jake, get those guys together and put them out there.” What I was shocked about was KJ Dillon, who talks more trash than anybody I’ve ever met – he talks trash to me – he didn’t get out there. I was like dude, him and Rasul Douglas were sitting right there. Both of them are extremely competitive and loved talking trash. I cant believe they didn’t jump out. Well, I forgot that KJ is coming off a knee surgery. He goes, “that’s the only reason I didn’t get in someone’s face out there.” But that was fun, Geno (Smith) came to the sideline he goes, “Man, I knew (Shelton Gibson) could run, but I didn’t know he could run that fast.” And he didn’t even stretch. No, it’s fun. Like I said, those guys mean a lot to me and the program, and I love having those guys back. They rub off on a lot of the younger guys. A lot of those guys in the locker room, I had Geno break it down. He broke it down. I mean 90% of that team doesn’t know Geno – never seen him before – so it’s good to have those guys back.”
Getting a chance for new players, current players and old players to all play together is a special moment that does not happen very often. Watching players who have never played with or against each is a rare glimpse into the age-old question of “What if?” What if these players were all the same age and all one team? While we may never know, it is safe to assume even Holgorsen thinks it would be something exciting to watch.
Overall, the Mountaineers had a successful spring game highlighting just where the team will be headed come September. The team and their head coach still have a great deal of work to do, but it can be assumed they will all enjoy putting the work in. Fall ball will be here before we know it.