WVU Finishes Spring Practices

Saturday's Gold-Blue Spring Game was the last time West Virginia fans would have the chance to see the Mountaineers before they open the 2014 season against powerhouse Alabama on Aug. 30.

The quarterback battle, which is expected to continue on through fall camp, was tight on Saturday in front of 10,000 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium.

All three who took snaps – seniors Paul Millard and Logan Moore and sophomore Skyler Howard – found success. The trio combined to throw for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Millard, statistics-wise, was best. He completed 14-of-19 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Moore's legs earned him 35 yards to add to 109 yards through the air. Howard was 9-of-13 for 70 yards and a touchdown.

"We've had a nice spring. We've been modifying our offense a little bit this spring, but as a group I think the quarterbacks have made some strides," Millard said.

Quarterback Clint Trickett sat out the spring recovering from surgery to a torn labrum and grade two AC sprain. He, along with true freshman William Crest, will be ready to compete for the starting job in the fall.

Competition was fairly spread out amongst the other offensive playmaking positions, as well. Junior running back Dustin Garrison led the team with 10 carries for 47 yards. Sophomore Wendell Smallwood had nearly identical numbers – the same carries but two fewer yards. Newcomer Rushel Shell finished with eight carries for 37 yards.

"Overall, we've got a lot of things to work on, but we made some plays, too," Garrison said.

Senior receiver Kevin White had a team-high five catches for 42 yards and one touchdown. Junior Jordan Thompson had the longest catch of the day for 42 yards in the second half. Senior Mario Alford continued to be the team's most game-breaking threat at the position; he finished with two catches. In total, 13 players finished with at least one catch.

WVU's offense gained 483 yards – many of those coming against the second or third-team defenses.

"Our first-team defense played excellent, so I started to take a lot of those guys out. Once we started taking those guys out, offensively we moved the ball a little bit, which as a head coach is what you want to see," said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen.

The WVU defense recorded three sacks and 10 tackles for loss in the spring game. It, however, did not record a turnover.

Alford opened the spring game with a bang. He took the opening kickoff for a touchdown. A hole opened wide on the right side of the play, and cut back across the play to open field for the 99-yard touchdown.

"I just read my lead block and basically cut it up from there," Alford said. "I feel really good about the spring that I had."

It took the offense a quarter to get going though, as the defense owned the first 15 minutes. The Mountaineers' defense held the offense to just 73 total yards in the first quarter.

It was a much different second quarter, though, as all three quarterbacks led their respective units down the field on scoring drives.

Howard found inside receiver Daikiel Shorts a few times on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Howard-Shorts connection on a touch pass from six yards out.

Later on, Millard hit White in stride on a fade route in the corner of the end zone for the seven-yard score.

Moore added two field-goal scoring drives in the second quarter.

Moore led the drive that opened the scoring in the third quarter, as well. On that drive, Moore had his second nice scramble of the game. Kicker Josh Lambert boomed a 53-yard field goal through the uprights to end the successful drive.

On the drive that opened the fourth quarter, Millard found Thompson for a short completion that ended in a 42-yard scamper to the 33-yard line. Millard found H-back Elijah Wellman for a one-yard touchdown pass.

WVU was led defensively by sophomore Justin Arndt, who had seven tackles. Four players had at least five tackles.

The surprise of the spring game may have been freshman linebacker Houstin Syvertson, who finished with three tackles, a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. He is a converted punter.

Junior H-back Cody Clay, senior guard Mark Glowinski and sophomore cornerback Darryl Worley were named Iron Mountaineers for their work this spring. Senior offensive lineman Michael Calicchio earned the Nikolich Award, as well.

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