No Early Favorite at QB

The position battle that will almost certainly generate the most attention and concern this spring among Mountaineer fans all but certainly won't be settled until fall, as WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said each quarterback on the roster will get plenty of evaluation in the coming weeks.

Echoing the comments of head coach Dana Holgorsen at Tuesday's pre-spring practice luncheon with reporters, Dawson emphasized that it is highly unlikely that West Virginia will find and name a successor to Geno Smith by the end of spring practice.

Holgorsen named four potential candidates for the job Tuesday -- junior Paul Millard, redshirt freshman Ford Childress, true freshman Chavas Rawlins and Fairmont native Logan Moore. Each will have a chance to show his stuff during spring practice.

"They won't get an equal shot, but no one will get more than the other one," Dawson said. "Let's put it that way. At least at the beginning, everybody will get equal reps, and as the practices go and people do better, we'll flip reps accordingly."

There is no urgency to name a starter, Dawson said. Indeed, it could be advantageous, as competition during the summer months could lead to a stronger starting quarterback no matter who ultimately wins the battle.

As far as a drop-dead date for when the coaches must have their first-team quarterback picked, Dawson said it doesn't have to be determined until the week before WVU's season-opener against William & Mary on Aug. 31. At that point, the starter will get the lion's share of reps with the team in true game-planning mode.

  • After an offseason filled with coaching turnover at WVU, Dawson finds himself as the only offensive assistant coach from the 2012 season who is still on the staff in 2013. But even the offensive coordinator switched position duties, moving from receivers to quarterbacks.

    With Bill Bedenbaugh, Robert Gillespie and Jake Spavital no longer on the staff, Dawson and Holgorsen have had to focus on teaching the new coaches -- Ron Crook for the offensive line and Lonnie Galloway for receivers (with a running backs coach still to be named) -- the Mountaineers' offensive philosophy.

    Galloway acknowledged that his learning curve wasn't that steep thanks to his time on the staff with Holgorsen and Dawson in the months after their hires at West Virginia and before Galloway left to take a position at Wake Forest. He still had his old notes on the offensive and just needed a refresher course.

    Dawson said that while teaching coaches the offense -- and teaching them well enough to be able to teach the players -- can be a challenge, it's nothing new.

    "We've coached coaches before and coached players," Dawson said. "That's something, if you look at the coordinating positions I had in the past, both of them, I didn't have any coaching changes from the year before. I had to keep the whole staff, which knew nothing about the offense. So I had to coach all the coaches, and then all the players, and then I let the coaches coach the players.

    "It was the same thing at SFA [Stephen F. Austin] ... I coached coaches in my philosophy and what we were going to do."

  • When reporters walked to the team's dining room in the Milan Puskar Center, they strolled past a glass wall that overlooks the team's weight room. But unlike past years, when one might have seen players in the middle of a lifting session, this time around there was nothing to see but dirt.

    That is because WVU is in the midst of its weight room overhaul, a $2.6 million project that will add 1,800 square feet of space (extending the facility outwards towards the Mountaineer Field playing surface) and completely revamp the functionality and aesthetics of the previous workout space.

    New lighting, new flooring, new graphics, new machinery and a new layout are all part of the project, which is slated to be completed in July -- just in time for preseason camp. Here is a link to a picture of the open space as it appeared on Tuesday morning.

  • The Mountaineers may enter spring practice without a running backs coach after the sudden departure of Robert Gillespie, who accepted the same position at Tennessee last week.

    But Dawson emphasized that won't have much of an impact on spring work. Holgorsen dryly said WVU will "find a coach" for the position, but Dawson said the need isn't urgent.

    "As a practice structure goes, the majority of our practice, we're together as skill [positions] -- quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. There is a certain amount of individual time we do. But I've coached running backs in the past. That was actually my first job in this offense. So if I need to coach running backs too, I can. Dana can coach running backs too. Me and Dana have a pretty good grasp of the offense."

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