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April 21, 2013
The Blue (defense) defeated the Gold (offense) 35-33 Saturday in front of a spirited group of fans after the game head coach Dana Holgorsen was quick to remind that the 2013 edition of the Mountaineers is still very much a work in progress.
"I've said this all spring. We've got a long ways to go. It was nice to see a couple guys step up and make some plays offensively and defensively," he said. "We made a couple field goals, too."
The team has responded with a willingness to work since the calendar flipped into the New Year and has expressed a desire to continue to improve. That will be needed moving forward as the coaching staff sorts through the many moving parts to the finished product by the August opener.
"This is phase two and it's over. Phase three is incredibly important and that's the next 14 weeks. These guys need to get out there and keep playing football," he said. "A lot needs to happen in the next three-and-a-half months."
Holgorsen thought the effort resembled football, but not high-level football and more importantly the Mountaineers left the game without any injuries.
The main focus entering the game was the battle for the starting quarterback position and there was little headway made in that duel between Ford Childress and Paul Millard. The junior Millard threw for 185 yards and three touchdowns, while redshirt freshman Childress tossed for 169 yards and a touchdown.
"Not only are we not ready to name a starter at quarterback, we're not ready to do that at about 20 other positions," he said.
One of the standouts of the game was a familiar face in Jordan Thompson, who had a similar performance a year ago before going through a relatively quiet freshman year.
"He will go down in the history books as the greatest spring-game player of all time," Holgorsen joked.
Unlike a season ago when the Mountaineers struggled to find leadership on the defensive side of the ball, this year's group has several players that have stepped up including Shaq Rowell, Will Clarke and Darwin Cook. As well as several others that have played a lot of football.
"It's night and day from where we are offensively," he said.
One of the surprises of the game was junior Travis Bell, who made the switch from safety to cornerback earlier in the week. Bell picked off one pass and almost had another that was called back due to a sack on the quarterback.
"He's embraced the change and he's excited about it. He's not a 210-pound kid; he weighs about 180-pounds. He can run fast and he has great conditioning," he said.
However, the move is far from set in stone as the coaching staff plans to evaluate it moving forward.
With the game now in the rear-view, Holgorsen said the coaches will begin work on game-planning and cutting up the 12 spring practices to examine what they did right and wrong. While coaches can't spend any time with the team during that span the players will be expected to work hard throughout the summer.
The coaching staff will also turn their attention to recruiting and evaluation over the next five weeks, before the summer camp season begins in June.
West Virginia NEWS