Some good and some bad from first West Virginia football fall scrimmage
After the first scrimmage of fall camp, Neal Brown knows two things.
His West Virginia football team still has some ways to go but fortunately has the time to do it.
The Mountaineers do not open the season until Aug. 31 against James Madison but between now and then there is quite a bit of work that needs to be accomplished.
This isn’t anything new for most teams across the country as Brown sees an opportunity to use the tape from the practice to help teach his roster as he looks for more consistency.
“Your video will tell the story,” he said.
While instances when the team plays well the Mountaineers look like a quality football team, the opposite has certainly been true as well with the units struggling on bad days.
“Where we’re at our bad is really bad. I mean, it’s really bad,” he said.
The first scrimmage affords the opportunity for the head coach to see his team in game situations with officials but it also serves as essentially a wake-up call for what needs improved. A day after being bested by the first team offense, the defense bounced back and won “soundly,” according to Brown.
The reverse can be said for the second team where the offense got the best of a defensive unit largely filled with freshmen and newcomers. The flip flopping of which unit emerges supreme on a day-to-day basis is part of the natural ebbs and flows of fall camp but finding consistency is the key.
The sloppiness on the offensive side of the ball could be directly attributed to penalties, drops and struggling to run, pass or throw the football. It doesn’t take detective work to figure out that if those essential elements are going wrong it’s not going to end well for an offense.
“The offense did not answer the bell,” Brown said.
It wasn’t all bad on the offensive side, as redshirt freshman Sam James, senior George Campbell and redshirt sophomore Sean Ryan all stood out at wide receiver with redshirt junior T.J. Simmons continuing to show consistency at the position. The Mountaineers are still awaiting word on what will happen with the waiver for immediate eligibility with Ryan.
Of the running backs, redshirt sophomore Alec Sinkfield played the best while Brown was not encouraged by the efforts of the quarterbacks outside Trey Lowe who led touchdown drives. However, the head man did make it clear that he wants to watch the tape on things before passing full judgement.
Defensively, Brown said that redshirt sophomore defensive end Taijh Alston bounced back from perhaps his worst practice since joining the program in the spring to record four sacks. Also on the defensive line, junior Darius Stills was disruptive throughout and won the battle in the trenches against Chase Behrndt. Others highlighted for playing well include Reuben Jones, a graduate transfer defensive end from Michigan, and true freshman cornerback Tae Mayo who returned a pick six for a touchdown.
The secondary mixed in several different players with senior Josh Norwood, redshirt junior Sean Mahone, redshirt junior Jake Long and true freshman Tykee Smith working in at safety while the cornerbacks were seniors Keith Washington and Hakeem Bailey along with freshmen Mayo and Nicktroy Fortune. Brown admitted that Smith will play this fall at safety along with the two freshmen corners.
“I think they’re going to be a factor for us this fall,” he said.
Health wise Brown believes that West Virginia is in a good spot and while a few players were banged up during the scrimmage he doesn’t anticipate any serious injuries. Only a handful of players did not participate with one of those being cornerback Dreshun Miller, who is out with a minor injury.
Outside of the scrimmage, Brown highlighted several players which have been consistent throughout the fall such as redshirt senior offensive tackle Colton McKivitz, sophomore linebacker Josh Chandler, redshirt senior long snapper Rex Sunahara, redshirt junior linebacker Dylan Tonkery, senior defensive end Reese Donahue and the aforementioned Norwood at safety and Simmons at wide receiver.
“I know what I’m going to get out of those guys every single day,” he said.
That is the goal for the rest of the team as well.
--West Virginia welcomed LSU graduate transfer Josh Growden to the roster to help fill a need at the punter position. The Australian punter joined the program Friday and competed in practice Saturday although he is still going through the acclimation period. He has one season of eligibility remaining and will be able to play this fall.
"He's got talent, it fits a need," Brown said.
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