MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The West Virginia Mountaineers have officially opened fall football camp this afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium. To kick off day one, head coach Dana Holgersen briefly spoke with the media giving a run down of the 13 practices that lie ahead before classes begin on August 17.
“It’s different this year because we’ve only got 13 practices before school starts,” said Holgersen. “I’ve had games before school starts and now we’ve got 13 practices in camp and then school starts and it gets reduced down to 20 hours a week so we’re probably gonna keep them up here and work them a little harder just based on the fact that there’s only 13 days of camp. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”
Addressing the new signees, Holgersen says Jacquez Adams has been ruled out and will attend prep school. Jevon Durante and Rasul Douglas are awaiting clearance, which Holgersen says should come soon.
“Our guys feel good, there’s nobody injured. I think we look pretty good, I really do,” Holgersen said regarding the overall health of the Mountaineer squad. “There’s 103 guys here and everybody is cleared and ready to go. We’re in as good of shape and we’re as deep and as experienced as we’ve been in five years,” he added.
Thanks to defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, the Mountaineer defense has been on the mend since prior to the Blue-Gold Spring Game, in which they beat the offense to a pulp.
“We want them to get better, by no means have they figured out that they can write books about defense at this point,” said Holgersen. “We gave up way too many yards, way too many points, we got very few turnovers so there was plenty of games where if we played better defensively then we win.”
“With that said, there’s a lot of experience coming back. Those guys are confident, those guys look good, feel good, second year in the system with all the coaches coming back and I think we’re gonna get to the point where we can say that,” Holgersen said, agreeing that the offense has been able to improve thanks to playing against a solid defense daily.
Holgersen’s media briefing only lasted about four minutes before a question about the highly anticipated William Crest arose.
“The only thing that’s scripted is quarterback reps,” said Holgersen. “He’ll get 50% of the second team quarterback reps so when he’s not in there taking those quarterback reps, I could throw him in there at any point. He’ll rep with the ones at running back and receiver, so nothing is scripted I wanna throw him in and see if he can handle it.”
Holgersen also said he has certainly not ruled Crest out in punt return situations. He then followed that statement up with a laughable remark regarding West Virginia’s failed special teams stunts over the past few seasons.
“You guys can go ahead and write this because this is the greatest topic you like to write about. We caught punts for 25 minutes pre-practice. The defense is working on the turnover circuit right now, we need to protect the ball which the offense is working on protecting the ball, and then we’ll go to fielding punts,” Holgersen said.
“That should fix all our problems and we should win a National Championship based on fixing that,” Holgersen joked.
In terms of the running back corps, Wendell Smallwood was the clear front-runner on day one. Smallwood was the first in line to run each drill and was the last in line to finish it off.
“Build up your resume,” said JaJuan Seider, the Mountaineers running-backs coach. “What do you want your resume to look like? All I can do is sign it, you’ve gotta be the one to put in the work,” he said while the backs proceeded in drills.
Last but not least, Holgersen briefly spoke about finding replacements for Kevin White and Mario Alford.
“Has it been a challenge in the past?” Holgersen confidently boasted when asked if it’s been difficult getting Shelton Gibson, Dakiel Shorts and Jordan Thompson, among others, ready to fill the now NFL players’ former collegiate roles.
“We’ve got eight bodies out there I’m looking forward to getting out there and coaching,” said Holgersen. “Some of those guys look as good as I’ve coached, so that’s the least of my worries.”
All photos courtesy Ashley Conley, BGS
Video courtesy Shanna Rose, BGS