MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– The West Virginia Mountaineers have a week of fall camp practices in the books and head coach Dana Holgorsen is happy with the effort on the field.
He addressed the media Monday afternoon prior to practice No. 8.
Holgorsen is pleased with sophomore Dravon Askew-Henry’s progress.
“He is progressing really well,” Holgorsen said. “It is night and day from where he was last year.
“There was a lot of times where he was lost a year ago, even in games. He was lost. He wasn’t as physical, and he wasn’t triggering the right way. He looks no different to me than (senior safety) Karl (Joseph) and (senior safety) KJ (Dillon) out there, as far as knowing what to do, breaking on the ball, being a sure tackler and being in the right place at the right time.”
The 5-foot-11, 198-pound free safety is ready to show everyone what he is made of.
Only the select few true freshmen make the cut to play right away. It is a tough task at the collegiate level and Holgorsen doesn’t see many getting much action this season.
“If your team is in a good place, then there is not going to be many (true freshmen),” he said. “Right now, looking at our depth chart with true freshmen, I think we are going to have a couple of wide outs that are going to be able to play.”
Michigan transfer Kyle Bosch is another player turning heads after the first week of camp. But he has been sidelined for a few days with a minor concussion.
There is no new news on the status of corner back Rasul Douglas.
Replacing Kevin White and Mario Alford is a tall task but the Mountaineers have a talented group of wide outs.
Holgorsen was impressed with last year’s wide receiver recruiting class.
“I think we did well last year in recruiting receivers,” he said. “Ka’Raun (White), Gary (Jennings) and Jovon (Durante) are as good as I thought they would be up to this point.
“Can they do it over the long haul? We will keep coaching them and keep evaluating them, but right now those three guys are in the mix. Whether that means as starters or backups, I don’t know. We will keep practicing and coaching them, but I am happy with all three of them.”
Shelton Gibson has done some good things this camp, but he is also trying too hard.
“Shelton (Gibson) has done some good things,” Holgorsen said. “He’s trying too hard. He had a lot of success in the spring, so he is trying to be the best one in the country. He has to let the game come to him. He’s doing some good things.
Senior KJ Meyers has waited in the wings for four years for playing time, and he is doing his best to get on the field consistently this year.
“He’s a hard worker, and a great teammate,” Holgorsen said. “He hasn’t allowed himself to get discouraged and leave or graduate and move on with life. He’s very motivated to make this a good year for him and a good year for us. I have been very proud of him.”
Jordan Thompson and Daikiel Shorts are two other wide receivers starting the year out on a positive foot.
Skyler Howard’s mobility has improved each practice. Holgorsen thinks this is important for West Virginia’s success.
“You can do some different things schematically throughout the course of a normal pass play, and it helps you be able to keep it alive and not get sacked or caught,” he said. “You have to be able to keep the play alive and be able extend the play. It’s a big thing.”
Besides Howard, the three back up quarterbacks are getting better day in and out.
“William (Crest Jr.) Is doing a lot better with signals, communication and knowing where to go with the ball. I’ve been really impressed with (freshman Chris Chugunov) Chugs up until this point. He spins it really well, and he’s a very smart kid. (Freshman) David (Sills) is probably the smartest guy in the room. He understands football as well as anybody. He is extremely athletic.”
“They’re improving. I’m happy with their progress.”
Punt return and kick off return is still a major focus for this year’s Mountaineers squad.
“KJ (Dillon) and Jacky (Marcellus) are two good kickoff return guys,” Holgorsen said. “We think Shelton (Gibson) is going to be pretty good. We think Dravon (Askew-Henry) is going to be pretty good.”
“We’ve worked punt returns way more than we have worked kickoff returns, but we’re working kick returns today.”
Holgorsen thinks Gibson was the best punt returner last season, but he can’t do everything on the field.
“He can’t be kick return, kick cover, punt cover and wide receiver,” he said. “He can’t do all of that stuff. We have to figure out what he deserves on offense and what he’s capable of on offense.”
Holgorsen is pleased with his coaching staff this season. This will be the third year the offensive staff is together. The defense has some new face, but Bruce Tall is fitting right in.
“Defensively, having Bruce Tall is night and day. It’s different from what it was last year because (Tony Gibson) Gibby is so comfortable with them,” Holgorsen said. “He’s been with them, knows the defense and understands the technique as well as the schemes. The d-line looks 100 percent different.
“Those guys get along. Gibby is extremely happy with having Mark Scott back. He is also happy with having (Joe DeForest) DeFo back, and having (Brian Mitchell) B-Mitch back. That’s a unit that is completely on the same page. I couldn’t be happier with the guy and where they are at.”