Tomorrow at 1:00 PM, the West Virginia football program will hold its annual Gold-Blue Spring Game inside Milan Puskar Stadium. After fourteen practices, Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and his team will showcase what they have worked on throughout the spring.
"I am impressed with the guys' energy. They have been excited about practicing and it seems like they are having a good time and trying to push their teammates to get better," said Holgorsen.
Offensively, Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson will give both Paul Millard and Skyler Howard opportunities to run with the first team. Howard likely will get the first offensive series with the ones and from there rotate between the first team and second team with Millard.
Millard had probably the best single practice of either guy this spring when he threw four touchdowns in an open practice two weeks ago. He and Howard have been continuing to work on releasing the ball quickly since spring practice opened up.
"Skyler and Paul both need to just put the ball in play. Standing back there, they need to have a clock," said Dawson. "You never want to go backwards. That frustrates me more than anything. Taking a sack when they blitz is one thing, but sitting back there and holding the ball for ten seconds is another."
Logan Moore will also see reps at the quarterback spot Saturday.
Next to the quarterback is a group of potential starting running backs. Dreamius Smith, Wendell Smallwood, Rushell Shell, Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie have competed intensely for carries.
"You mix in four or five guys that can play, that's a baseline for competition. The more competition you have, the better it is going to make everybody," said Dawson. "If we could get more positions crowded like the running back position, we'll be doing a good job."
At receiver similar faces in Kevin White, Mario Alford and Daikiel Shorts will run with the ones. Upfront, WVU will go with Adam Pankey, Quinton Spain, Tyler Orlosky, Mark Glowinski and Marquis Lucas from left to right.
Defensively, all fourteen practices have been dedicated to installing new defensive coordinator Tony Gibson's scheme. WVU will run versions of the 3-4 and 3-3-5 defense.
The scheme is designed to put West Virginia in better situations against Big 12 offenses. Instead of sub-packages, the Mountaineers will leave the same personnel on the field to combat pace of play.
"Anytime you try to sub with these offenses, you're not going to be lined up. Your guys won't be seeing the right thing and it turns into a mess for you," Gibson said. "You can't call anything that will stop that. You'll just be lucky to run them out there and get eleven guys on the field."
This will be showcased tomorrow as Gibson's defense runs up against Holgorsen's offense.
As far as personnel goes, SPUR KJ Dillon had the best spring of any WVU defender. The SPUR spot acts as a hybrid linebacker and safety.
"KJ Dillon has been very disruptive on defense and more disciplined. He's always been disruptive on defense, but sometimes it was disruptive for himself or me than he has opposing offenses," said Holgorsen. "Now he is more disciplined, he's lining up better, he's more disciplined, and he's staying on his feet and making more plays on defense as well."
The secondary has developed growth as well. Ricky Rumph, Jeremy Tyler and Brandon Napoleon have grown up to where they can be put on the field. Karl Joseph and Daryl Worley both had excellent springs too.
The most outstanding newcomer of the spring is junior college transfer linebacker Edward Muldrow. He'll line up on the opposite side of Brandon Golson to rush the passer.
The spring game also gives a chance to see new Senior Associate Head Coach Tom Bradley in action. His defensive line has focused on technique and fundamentals throughout the fourteen practices.
"Well it's always the little things. You always take care of the little things to get better, it is never about the big things. Just little things at a time," said Bradley. "The spring game is a day for the players to have some fun."
The gates open up at Noon and tickets are $10 each with proceeds benefiting the West Virginia University Children's Hospital.