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August 15, 2013
After a few weeks practicing on the upper fields, the West Virginia football squad returned to the field turf of Milan Puskar Stadium for the 17th practice of fall camp.
In the 30-minute session open to the media, the Mountaineers ran a similar practice as Monday, showcasing special team action early but transitioning into 11-on-11 drills to close out the day.
Coach Dana Holgorsen opened up practice with the traditional conditioning routine at midfield while the quarterbacks worked with Coach Shannon Dawson in the south end zone. Dawson put each signal caller through various drills, all of which appeared more intense than any we have seen since camp opened. Perhaps the level of competition is paying off between the three quarterbacks, as the trio appeared rather equal in terms of accuracy, agility and reaction time.
A drill performance such as this might have people continuing to wonder which quarterback has the edge.
However, the murky waters of the quarterback race became much clearer for the first time this year as today's practice moved along.
While the quarterbacks continued to compete in the end zone, the remainder of the squad continued special teams work on the field. Following conditioning, the team broke off between punt and field goal units, beginning with Josh Lambert at the south end zone.
Lambert, as he has been throughout camp, appeared accurate and with good force off the kick. The redshirt freshman connected on all five attempts from various lengths before the punt team took over the field.
Continuing with the pattern of competition this fall, the battle for starting punter saw very little progression, with all three getting equal reps. However, JUCO transfer Nick O'Toole appeared to be the most impressive, bombing punts with nice accuracy.
Before the WVU team session, wide receiver coach Lonnie Galloway was working with punt returners. From the looks of it seems like Galloway and Head Coach Dana Holgorsen has narrowed down the punt returner competition. Alford, Ronald Carswell and Jordan Thompson were getting all of the reps fielding punts.
Thompson who practiced for the first time in a week after being in the medical jersey, caught all but one punt, while Alford and Carswell caught everything coming their way.
With about 10 minutes remaining in the media availability, the offense and defense split among opposite sidelines to prepare for an 11-on-11 drill. The mini-scrimmage, of sorts, provided no major contact, but did give an opportunity to witness various alignments, position battles and progression among the squad.
The first team offense was almost unchanged from the open session Monday with Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett again the first quarterback to take snaps for the Mountaineers. The offensive line remained the same from left to right: Quinton Spain, Marquis Lucas, Tyler Orlosky, Mark Glowinski and Curtis Feigt, while the wide receivers were once again Ronald Carswell and KJ Myers on the outside with Mario Alford playing the inside position.
Defensively, the line consisted of Eric Kinsey, Shaq Rowell and Will Clarke, the linebackers were Doug Rigg and Jared Barber at the inside spots, and Brandon Golson holding down the BUCK position. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Isaiah Bruce lined up at outside linebacker for the second consecutive practice. In the secondary, stalwarts Karl Joseph and Darwin Cook lined up at safety and cornerbacks were Ishmael Banks and Travis Bell. Fellow inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski wore green and did not participate in the team session.
The second team unit consisted of Paul Millard behind center and Dustin Garrison in the backfield. The offensive line was once again Pat Eger, Russell Haughton-James, Tony Matteo, Stone Underwood and Nick Kindler, while the wide receivers were Ivan McCartney, Devonte Mathis, Jordan Thompson and Terrance Gourdine. Cody Clay lined up at the fullback position.
The Mountaineers defense was Dontrill Hyman, Christian Brown and Noble Nwachukwu on the defensive line, Wes Tonkery and Shaq Petteway, Dozie Ezemma and Tyler Anderson at linebacker.
The safeties were KJ Dillon and Ricky Rumph and cornerbacks lined up with Daryl Worley and Brodrick Jenkins.
Like Monday, the most noticeable position on the field was at quarterback, with all focus on Clint Trickett. The transfer, who started with the first team on Monday's drill, did the same today, connecting on all but one pass in his first series. Trickett appeared poised in the pocket, stepping up and connecting with Mario Alford on several tight patterns.
As for Mario Alford he looks like he's finally starting to understand what West Virginia does offensively.
Hauling in six catches with the first team offense, Alford showed off his foot speed, ball skills and ability to run routes. With his explosiveness, Alford took WVU's patented 'touch pass' play for about a ten yard gain, blowing by linebackers on the outside.
With his hands Alford probably made after lining up in the slot on the left side across the field working towards the far sideline. Trickett led Alford to the sideline, Alford moved towards the ball reached out his arms and made a nice two handed catch.
Alford looks to finally get what WVU can do, with his speed, he could be very dangerous in the WVU offense.
After this, things began to get interesting at the passer position. Paul Millard took his slot with the second team on the next series, where he appeared rather confident in the position. But for the third series - another first team series that featured Ford Childress in the role Monday - Trickett returned to again run the first team offense.
Childress would get his opportunity, and look pretty impressive, with the second team offense, on the fourth and final series, but the lone presence of Trickett with the first team spoke volumes to the current state of the quarterback race.
Defensively in the drill for West Virginia, Jared Barber stood out.
After practicing in the medical green jersey the previous two days, Barber moved around from sideline to sideline with ease. Physically Barber looks in good shape ready to contribute strong to the 2013 season. Running with the first team, Barber lined up at the WILL next to Doug Rigg.
After that group the first team came out again with several changes on both sides, running back Wendell Smallwood was in the backfield and Daikiel Shorts at wide receiver, while Sean Walters subbed in at inside linebacker and Kyle Rose took a turn at nose guard.
Finally, the second team rolled out again but this time with Ford Childress at quarterback, Andrew Buie at running back and Garrett Hope at full back. On the flip side several players got turns defensively with Dontrill Hyman, James Gayeski and Trevor Demko on the defensive line and others in the secondary such as Jarrod Harper, Avery Williams, Brandon Napoleon and Jeremy Tyler.
Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Adam Pankey was spotted in red, while junior college wide receiver Kevin White and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Dante Campbell were in green, along with the aforementioned Kwiatkoski.
Jordan Thompson returned to full participation Thursday.
Thursday was the final session open to the media.
West Virginia NEWS