MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– West Virginia University head coach Dana Holgorsen addressed the media on Friday afternoon and announced that the Mountaineers defensive line has taken another hit.
Redshirt junior Xavier Pegues had offseason shoulder surgery and is sidelined until at least late October.
“We have nine bodies, so they have to stay healthy,” Holgorsen said.
Pegues redshirted last season after transferring from Itawamba (Miss.) Community College and was listed as Christian Brown’s backup at defensive end
Earlier in the week Holgorsen announced the loss of backup nose tackle Jaleel Fields after suffering offseason knee injury.
Otherwise, as the first week of fall camp winds down Holgorsen is pleased with his team and their effort after one day in pads.
“The energy was good, it was sloppy at times, it was physical at times, and it was soft at times,” he said. “I was happy with the overall aspect of the practice.”
Right tackle is a position that is wide open for the taking. Redshirt junior Marcell Lazard and redshirt freshman Colton McKivitz are battling for the starting position.
“I think Marcell had his best practice that he has had since he has been here yesterday,” Holgorsen said. “I’m happy with his effort and his determination. He’s going into his junior year. He probably got thrusted into the lineup a year earlier than I wanted him to. A guy like him that was a developmental guy, that had to work on his body and get in shape and learn and be comfortable and confident and all that usually takes until about his junior year to figure it out. He kind of got thrusted into it a little bit too quick when (redshirt sophomore defensive lineman) Yodny (Cajuste) went down last year.
“Colton is the type of guy that is like Yodny, high school basketball, long, underweight, athletic, that grows into a tackle spot quicker than anticipated. We are really happy with him, he is smart, and he is able to flip back and forth. We don’t want to mess with Yodny on the left side, he is really good. We don’t want to mess with Marcell because he is really comfortable on the right side so Colton is going to be able to play either tackle position and give us depth that we haven’t had in a while. But, if Colton is better than Marcell we are going to start him at right tackle.”
The offensive line struggled last season with pass protection and that is something Holgorsen and his staff is hoping to fix this fall.
“I didn’t call a drop-back pass for nine weeks in a row,” he said. “We were running the ball a good bit. The passes that we threw, if you remember, were a lot of play action, downfield stuff or screens. We were a very, very, very below average drop-back passing team last year.”
Holgorsen is impressed with how redshirt junior kicker Mike Molina is stepping up in the wake of the Josh Lambert suspension.
“He looks good,” Holgorsen said. “He’s looks comfortable. Josh (Lambert) is working himself back into shape. If Mike goes out and he’s knocking that thing through the upright a bunch in the first three games, than it would be silly to uproot that. We’ve never seen Mike in live situations. Josh has a history of being able to knock through big kicks as the clock is winding down.”
Cody Clay was a big loss for the Mountaineers at tight end and someone will have big shoes for someone to fill.
“Cody (Clay) got so big that he was a guy that we really didn’t want in the back field very much, so we play to your strength a little bit with that,” Holgorsen said. “We may be a little bit more of a 20 personnel team instead of 11, but schematically it’s all the same stuff. It’s too early to tell with these guys. (Redshirt sophomore tight end) (Trevon) Wesco, first play of the inside drill yesterday, twisted his knee and is out for a while, so I don’t know. (Redshirt freshman tight end/full back) Stone (Wolfley) went in yesterday and had his best day of practice.”
WVU also has several new coaches on the sidelines this season but Holgorsen doesn’t think it will be a tough task for his staff to get on the same page.
“You want continuity,” he said. “The good news is the continuity that we have on offense and defense from a scheme is good. We have a lot of guys that have been in this program that we’re going to be counting on to play for us on both offense and defense that have been hearing the same thing, terminology wise, schematically for offense for five years and for defense going on the third year. That’s probably more important than not having continuity when it comes to coordinators.
“I like how those guys are interacting. If you look at it, obviously (offensive coordinator) (Joe) Wickline and I have a history and we know what each other wants. (Receivers) coach (Tyron) Carrier and I have a history and we know what each other wants. Defensively, (safeties) coach (Matt) Caponi and (defensive coordinator Tony Gibson) Gibby have a history and they know what each other wants. So that eases the gap a little bit. (Cornerbacks coach) Blue (Adams) is kind of the new guy who comes in that has to learn what we want, but his expertise is the technique aspect of it. He’s as good as I’ve seen at it. He gets out there. Both him and Carrier, its kind of fun to watch, they come to practice in cleats. I don’t know if I’ve seen that from a coach. They both come to practice with cleats, and they’re showing the guys what to do and they’re doing the drills with them. I know that rubs off on the players with a technique aspect.”
WVU is far from game ready but Holgorsen believes his team has plenty of time to make the adjustments they need.
Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS