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August 12, 2013
It was a balmy afternoon in north central West Virginia as the Mountaineers took to the field for their final week of fall football camp.
In the 30-minute session open to the media, the Mountaineers switched up their typical practice routine, allowing the media to take in their first glimpse of live action in preparation for this anticipated season.
However, the practice started just like any traditional outing with a brisk stretch and special teams work. Josh Lambert, who has all but been assured the starting kicker position, continued his hot streak throughout camp, connecting on all but one field goal attempt from various lengths. The single miss was a block by who appeared to be Dozie Ezemma off a low, line drive attempt from Lambert.
West Virginia ran some 11-on-11 toward the middle of practice with the emphasis on both sides of the ball on alignment and tempo. As soon as the ball was snapped, players on both sides of the ball were encouraged to get up and get off the field by the coaching staff.
"Hurry up and run off," defensive line coach Erik Slaughter said to his group.
Tempo proved to be a common theme from the as the coaching staff placed heavy emphasis on up-tempo play down after down. After every snap was ruled dead, coaches on both sidelines would continuously shout reminders of this to the players.
"Push it, push it," the coaches would yell after a play. "Back to the line. Run, run, run. Let's go, let's go!"
One coach, however, was not entirely pleased with the tempo efforts of his unit. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson was overheard complaining about the conditioning of his linebacker unit as they hustled off the field following the scrimmage.
The first 11 on the field on the offensive side were Clint Trickett at quarterback with Charles Sims and Cody Clay in the backfield. The wide receiver group was comprised of KJ Myers and Ronald Carswell on opposite sides, with Mario Alford playing inside.
The offensive line group was Quinton Spain at left tackle, Marquis Lucas at left guard, Tyler Orlosky at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Curtis Feigt manning the right tackle position.
Defensively the Mountaineers had Eric Kinsey, Shaq Rowell and Will Clarke up front, with the inside linebackers comprised of Nick Kwiatkoski and Doug Rigg. Isaiah Bruce played one of the outside linebacker positions instead of his normal inside spot, while Brandon Golson lined up at BUCK linebacker and tipped one of Trickett's first passes. The secondary was Ishmael Banks and Travis Bell at corners and the usual duo of Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph handled the safety spots.
Paul Millard would then take over with a second team unit, before Ford Childress would lead his own drive with many of the first team players still intact. When Childress was back with the first team, Shaq Pettaway rotated with Doug Rigg and inside linebacker and Kyle Rose rotated for Shaq Rowell at nose guard. Ivan McCartney also rotated in, playing on the outside during Childress' drive.
Offensively, the second team to hit the field worked with Millard behind center and Dreamius Smith and Dustin Garrison in the backfield. The wide receivers were Shelton Gibson and Devonte Mathis on the inside, Daikiel Shorts and Terrence Gourdine on the outside. On the offense line, the Mountaineers rolled out Nick Kindler, Stone Underwood, Tony Matteo, Russell Haughton-James and Pat Eger.
The second team unit on defense consisted of: a defensive line of Dontrill Hyman, Christian Brown and Noble Nwachukwu and the linebacker group comprised of Sean Walters, Al-Rasheed Benton on the inside, Hodari Christian at SPUR and Dozie Ezemma lining up at BUCK. In the secondary, the cornerbacks were Daryl Worley and Brodrick Jenkins with KJ Dillon and Jarrod Harper lining up at the safety spots.
When the drill finally got underway, it was Clint Trickett and Charles Sims in the backfield, leading the first team offense against the defense. In a much-publicized quarterback race, Trickett now appears to have a slight edge over his competition - Ford Childress and Paul Millard - with the staff placing him out first in front of the media.
And in this limited contact 11-on-11 scrimmage, Trickett appeared to part of a guy who is ready to make the leap towards starting day. While his first pass attempt - a deep flag route to Ronald Carswell - was tipped by Brandon Golson in a battle for the ball that could have gone either way, Trickett shook it off and helped lead the first teamers to an opening touchdown drive.
Throughout, Trickett looked poised in the pocket, sharp with his reads and did not appear rattled at any point; something you look for in all starting quarterbacks.
But while the focus was on the quarterback play throughout the scrimmage, the battle at running back also became a touch clearer. Alongside Trickett, it was fellow transfer Sims getting reps with the first team, and taking full advantage of the opportunity. Sims appeared to be the class of the offense today, showcasing great speed, brute strength on several runs and a versatile skillset.
Aside from a dropped pass from Trickett on the flat, Sims did little wrong in his appearance today, capping off with a long touchdown run, breaking loose on a draw play up the middle and using his breakaway speed to glide past the defense for the early score.
Following the first drive of the contest, Paul Millard and Dreamius Smith took command of the offense, albeit with less success than the first team drive. Millard, however, did not look uncomfortable in the role as the field general, letting his "Texas gunslinger" mentality, as Coach Dana Holgorsen put it, take over from the get-go.
Aside from a couple runs by Smith, who looked strong in his role as the power back, Millard put a bulk of the snaps into the air, connecting on short pass after short pass.
Still, the junior quarterback never went deep on any attempt, allowing the drive to stall on downs.
Finally, Childress took to the field for the third series, working with the first team offense, bringing Dustin Garrison in tow to work with first team. Like Millard, Childress never appeared to take any shots downfield, opting for short crossing passes and screens instead, giving little indication.
The scrimmage ended with Trickett, working with the second string offense, once again taking command, connecting on a number of deep throws, including a 40+ yard toss to Terrance Gourdine for the final touchdown of the day.
On the injury front several players sported red jerseys Monday with redshirt freshman offensive lineman Adam Pankey, sophomore cornerback Nana Kyeremeh, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Dante Campbell and redshirt junior linebacker Jewone Snow all seen riding the exercise bike or stretching.
On the plus side, sophomore wide receiver Jordan Thompson returned to practice sporting a green jersey and participated, along with junior college wideout Kevin White, who also donned green but neither went during the team portion. On the defensive side both redshirt junior STAR linebacker Wes Tonkery and junior linebacker Jared Barber wore green shirts.
Still no signs of junior college linebacker d'Vante Henry who has been away dealing with personal issues and true freshmen linebacker Darrien Howard and safety Isaac McDonald as they await NCAA Clearinghouse decisions.
Practice continues tomorrow, but will be closed to the media. The next and final open session will be held Thursday at 5 p.m.
West Virginia NEWS