MORGANTOWN--It took West Virginia's first-team offense more than a soggy hour Saturday to score two touchdowns against the No. 1 defense, so when the Mountaineers first officiated scrimmage of the spring concluded, starting quarterback Geno Smith had this to say as he dried off:
"That's part of the game and we overcame it," the junior commented on the rain which fell for all of the workout's nearly two hours. "We're going to play in this stuff, so why not today?
"I think the most you could say about this scrimmage was that we got it in, so it's bound to make the team better than what we were when we started out today. I thought we did a good job of hanging onto the ball, what with the weather," he said.
A deluge came down-sometimes steadily, sometimes in torrents--from 11 a.m.--when the white-clad offense and the blue-clad defense mustered on the field for pre-scrimmage exercises--to the post-practice huddle with the coaches about 1 p.m.. Sometimes it was almost blinding to those who took cover in the glassed-in box seats at Milan Puskar Stadium on the first level under the pressbox.
The Mountaineers never went to the IPF.
"You know why, because a wise man once said, "If you're going to FIGHT in the North Atlantic, you've got to TRAIN for the North Atlantic," head coach Bill Stewart said.
He was quoting longtime Michigan coach Bo Schembechler's pre-game talk with the Wolverines. The words originally were credited to an admiral from Her Majesty's Navy (Great Britain).
In all, WVU's first- and second-team offenses put up 3 touchdowns on the day.
Trey Johnson scored from the one behind the first OL 50 minutes into the work. This came against the No. 1 D.
Fellow running back Shawne Alston scored from the three 66 minutes into 1's vs. 1's scrimmaging.
Finally, second string quarterback Paul Millard threw eight yards into the end zone to a wide open Tyler Urban about 1 hour, 27 minutes into the fray.
Nobody tried an extra point after touchdown. In field goal kicking at the end of the practice, Tyler Bitancurt made good on a 36-yard field goal against a live rush. His backup-punting, kickoff man Corey Smith--watched his holder let the ball squirt through his hands on his one attempt against No. 2 kick block.
Smith, the All-Big East quarterback, completed an unofficial 8 of 13 passes for 167 yards and 1 INT. Millard was 7-17-1 for 75 yards in non-official stats. He threw the touchdown and also was picked off.
Those numbers would have been padded had the weather cooperated. For instance, Ivan McCartney let a Geno fast ball pass through his hands in the end zone. "Batman" brought in a Smith ball for 25 yards, however.
Tavon Austin dropped the first ball thrown him by the starting QB, too.
Stedman Bailey led the receivers with two catches for 46 yards (23 average); T.A. got his (3-43, about 14 ypc), Ryan Nehlen hauled in three balls for 27 yards (9.0).
Tyler Urban caught two passes for 25 yards and the touchdown. Also catching two passes were J.D. Woods (14 ypc), Daquan Hargrett, and Vernard Roberts.
"It was hard to hold the ball and run because of the weather and because defensive players are going to strip the ball. That's why I thought we did a good job holding onto the ball," said Smith.
Unofficially, Trey Johnson ran 8 times for 57 yards (almost 7 ypc). He scored once and recovered his own fumble. Vernard Roberts backed him up with 5 totes for 41 yards and one lost fumble. Shawne Alston carried 6 times for 21 yards, a touchdown and a lost fumble; Daquan Hargrett carried three times for 39 (13 ypc) and Austin carried once on an end-around for 3 yards.
Only A backs Johnson, Alston, V. Roberts, and Hargrett touched the ball out of the backfield. Ryan Clarke, Matt Lindamood and Ricky Kovatch blocked, mostly out of the diamond formation.
Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen ran about 10 plays out of the diamond, the alignment with the quarterback and A-back at the bottom and top of the formation, respectively, with two big backs on either side.
"I thought the scrimmage was OK because we persevered in the weather. The one thing that was disturbing was the kicking game. I know it was wet out there and we had trouble with the snaps and holds, but we can kick better," said Stew.
In pre-practice reps, Bitancurt was good on 5 out of 7 field goal tries from the offensive 26-yard-line and in. He had one blocked. Smith was 1-3 with a block.
Terence Garvin blocked Bitancurt's attempt from the edge, while Josh Taylor came up the middle to snare Smith's.
Defensively, Bruce Irvin had two sacks of his own. There were two other "team sacks" when the ball was whistled dead as first Millard, then Geno, could not unload.
"I thought the ball-handling overall was good. A couple of balls got knocked away by clean hits, but for the most part we concentrated," Stewart said.
The Mountaineers are scheduled to go out in shells on Monday, take Tuesday off and scrimmage in pads on Wednesday.