WVU Camp Notebook: Day 8

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the first time this camp, we saw West Virginia take the field in full pads this afternoon. While the players were equipped for contact, there wasn’t much on display during the 30-minute open period, but there were plenty of things of note to start week two of fall camp.

As they have every time we’ve been able to watch, the Mountaineers opened practice with the turnover circuit. The coaching staff is not taking last season’s big 12-worst minus-15 turnover margin lightly. With so much attention being paid to creating turnovers on defense and preventing them on offense, it is hard to imagine that margin not improving this season.

Through the first week of camp, it appears West Virginia has avoided the injury bug for the most part. As Dana Holgorsen told us in his press conference earlier today, offensive lineman Kyle Bosch was wearing a red non-contact jersey today as a result of a mild concussion he sustained within the last few days. According to Holgorsen, the Bosch’s concussion is not believed to be serious, and he should be back practicing with his teammates and vying for a starting position on the offensive line before too long.

Quarterbacks coach Michael Burchett continued to put the signal callers through the wringer today, working on quick throws, touch passes and footwork. Starter Skyler Howard is a cut-above the rest of the QB pack, but there are some things he has struggled with at times.

On the straight drop back throws, Howard threw off his back foot one or two times, sailing the ball over the intended target. Holgorsen said earlier today that Howard needs to work on consistency in his lower half, calling him a completely different quarterback from the waist down when you look at the Iowa State game tape and compare it to the Liberty Bowl loss to Texas A&M. Where Howard looks more comfortable is on the move. He made several pinpoint throws on the move, when there isn’t time to think and muscle memory takes over. Screen passes and short touch passes appear to be right in his wheelhouse, and moving the pocket with regularity could be a good way to take advantage of his athleticism.

In the race for the No. 2 quarterback spot, William Crest still appears to be the front-runner, but true freshman Chris Chuganov has drawn some attention lately. He has a quick, fluid and technically sound release and has shown flashes of big time potential.

Led by Rushel Shell, West Virginia’s running back corps could be one of the most physically dominating groups of ball carriers I’ve seen. Sure, it’s different when a linebacker with bad intentions is running downhill at you, but Shell, Thomas-Williams and Wellman really pack a punch when they lower their shoulders. Combine that with the speed and elusiveness of Wendell Smallwood, and you’ve got a good mix of brute force and finesse that should cause plenty of problems for opposing defenses this year.

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