The first team defense kept the first team offense out of the end zone, while the second team offense managed to move the ball reasonably, resulting in a pair of scores from quarterback Paul Millard. The senior hit K.J. Myers in the back of the end zone for the first touchdown, then, two drives later, found Donte Thomas-Williams in the flats. Thomas-Williams sidestepped a defender and beat two others to the corner for the score.
Millard, who completed eight of 10 passes for the two scores during the nearly one-hour session made available to media, appeared crisp and consistent, the trademarks of his collegiate career. Millard challenged the defense vertically on a couple of occasions, and kept his head downfield while sliding in the pocket. His passes, perhaps lacking the overall zip of starter Clint Trickett’s, were accurate, and he often found the proper windows against what coverages the defense showed.
Trickett, working with the first team, nearly completed a long scoring pass to Daikiel Shorts. The wideout, however, failed to catch a nicely arced ball in the corner of the end zone. Trickett routinely led solid drives, but the first team often bogged down inside the red zone, and came away empty on multiple occasions as the coaches decided to try and convert a fourth down or time expired. Remember, all the work was situational, and it’s far more likely the coaches would have taken field goals in an actual game. But with all the work the placekickers have done, the coaches apparently felt the reps were more needed for the offense.
Trickett finished 12 of 24 passing with one interception and no touchdowns. The pick was a poor decision thrown on a short route that went directly into the hands of spur K.J. Dillon. That came two series after Dillon was flattened on a solid block by Shorts on a run play – illustrating the up and down contrast for both sides. That’s not always a negative; a team with solid all-around play often appears to stagnate against itself. Of course, teams with poor overall play could also do the same. The defense, for the most part, did seem to outplay the offense in the scrimmage
Josh Lambert did attempt three field goals during the entire session, according to assistant Joe DeForest, and the sophomore had one of his two worst days of fall camp. Lambert made his first kick, then missed a 50-yarder before badly hooking a chip shot that should certainly have been converted. DeForest said he let Lambert know how he felt about the miss – which was the result of poor footwork – but noted that Lambert typically has performed well, with this session being an aberration.
The first team wideouts were Shorts, Kevin White, Mario Alford and Jordan Thompson, with Wendell Smallwood taking backfield snaps. The twos were more mixed, as the coaches rotated in players like Devonte Mathis, Vernon Davis, Logan Moore and Andrew Buie at slot, and Shelton Gibson and K.J. Myers on the outside. At times, portions of that group shuffled down to the threes to take reps with William Crest. Crest threw just one pass, an incompletion, and didn’t run the ball. The first team line remained as expected, with, from left to right, Adam Pankey, Quinton Spain, Tyler Orlosky, Mark Glowinski and Marquis Lucas. The second group was Michael Calicchio, Grant Lingafelter, Tony Matteo, Stone Underwood and Marcell Lazard.
Smallwood got the bulk of action with four carries, followed by Dustin Garrison and Smith with three, Buie and Thomas-Williams with two and Elijah Wellman with one. Thompson, Shorts and Alford had three catches, Smallwood and Gibson two and Smith, Devonte Mathis, White, Buie, Moore, Davis, Myers and Thomas-Williams with one. Terrell Chestnut and Travis Bell worked in with Daryl Worley in first team action at corner, with Karl Joseph and Jeremy Tyler at the safety slots. Dillon was at spur, with Edward Muldrow, Nick Kwiatkoski and Wes Tonkey at linebacker. The line was Kyle Rose at nose, flanked by Noble Nwachukwu (tackle) and Dontril Hyman (end).
Christian Brown worked in at nose on the second unit, with Shaq Riddick, while Darrien Howard and Eric Kinsey mixed in. The linebackers were Isaiah Bruce, Al-Rasheed Benton and Sean Walters, the corners Brandon Napoleon and Ricky Rumph and Dayron Wilson at spur. The safeties were Dravon Henry and Jarrod Harper. The defense tackled well, with defensive coordinator Tony Gibson estimating just “two or three” missed tackles after having 22 in one practice. Gibson said the staff addressed the missed tackles, and the team drilled tackling often over the last days, but that aspect is still bothering him. Gibson also said the missed assignments were way down from earlier in camp, and that he is reasonably pleased with where the defense is as classes begin on Monday.
The Mountaineers, rotating first and second units, and always playing the ones vs the ones and twos vs twos, ran through a series of situations. WVU worked goal line coming out, red zone going in, starting near midfield and a lesser version of the two minute drill where the offense had a few shots at the end zone as time wound down. Rushel Shell was in pads, but did not take a snap. Icky Banks was not seen, and when asked about his status, Gibson said the media would “have to ask coach (Dana) Holgorsen about that.” Holgorsen, however, was unavailable for comment.
Holgorsen did address the team at the close of practice, giving final instructions on being cautious not to embarrass themselves or the program, to drink only if of legal age, and to not drink and drive. Respect for self, teammates and the program was a central theme heading into among the bigger student party weekends of the fall, with the majority moved in but classes not having yet started. WVU also hosts its Fallfest celebration Monday, though players will be back practicing by then.