The Mountaineers held their first Saturday session this season, which also coincided with a coaching clinic held at the school on the same day. It was actually the sixth practice of the spring for the Mountaineers, who held three sessions before spring break and two more earlier this week. The primary news to emerge were the suspensions of Jovon Durante, Larry Jefferson, Donte Thomas-Williams and Josh Lambert for the spring for violations of team rules. Durante was still on the field, dressed in street clothes, but Thomas-Williams and Lambert were not seen. Durante, Jefferson and Lambert are expected to return for the summer, head coach Dana Holgorsen said, while Thomas-Williams' future is less certain.
Holgorsen also announced the transfer of former receiver/running back Jacky Marcellus, while receiver Gary Jennings (wrist, expected to return soon), safety Jarrod Harper (shoulder - out for spring) and offensive linemen Jacob Buccigrossi (shoulder - out for spring) and Matt Jones were injured. Jones hurt his shoulder during drills, while Buccigrossi, Harper and Jennings entered the practice with injuries.
Among the most obviously noticeable aspects was that WVU has split the line at times between Ron Crook (centers and guards) and new offensive coordinator Joe Wickline (tackles and tight ends). That allows for greater individual focus on each, and center Tyler Orlosky noted that both coaches bring vastly different skillsets with the power run game with Crook and the more traditional air raid pass protection with Wickline. It was also interesting to watch the interaction between players and new cornerbacks coach Blue Adams, Adams brings a ton of energy to the position and was quite detail-oriented in some phases. He also had a ton of encouraging words for solid work, while dishing out some one-liners after miscues. It's obvious Adams is meshing effectively with the team, and that will be key as both he and fellow first-year assistant Matt Caponi, who mentors the safeties, work to rebuild the secondary.
Staying on that side of the ball, cornerback Antonio Crawford, a transfer from Miami, looked as honed as any player on the field. Crawford was able to break on the ball, flip his hips. change direction and finish plays well. He should be able to slide in and see time immediately, and he was more than willing to challenge some of WVU's playmakers at receiver. Crawford was working with the second team, but could elevate as the spring progresses. On the flip side, though it wasn't a surprise, second team running back Kennedy McKoy showed why he received so much praise from position coach JaJuan Seider. The freshman flashed the burst and strength needed to ply the trade at the Big 12 level, and was able to hit the hole and accelerate while using good field vision. McKoy played behind Rushel Shell, but his change of pace and talents are likely too great to not bee utilized as among the main backs.
Fellow reserve Chris Chugunov showed why his passing has been heralded, throwing a crisp, sharp ball that was usually on target. He and D.L. Knock had several completions between them, including one for a 25-yard score. David Sills was also impressive at wide receiver, where he worked with the first, second and third teams as the coaching staff shuffled the order so that the depth there could all gain reps with different passers. Sills secures the ball well and can make defenders miss in space for the extra yardage. He didn't take a snap at quarterback - William Crest ran the third team, mainly keeping the ball on the ground - and one wonders how much more time until Sills makes the mental transition, if he hasn't already, to acknowledging that's where his future is.
Crest also worked some at receiver, but the showcase player there was Ka'Raun White. The junior seems to have made another jump from last season, and his quickness off the snap and ability to seal defenders with his body are assets. White controlled most of the one-on-one sessions against DBs, and was able to free himself and present a solid target to the QBs.
The practice set-up was much the same as it has been in the past for West Virginia, which prides itself on getting as many reps and snaps per player as any team in the nation. WVU ran through a series of individual drills before moving to punt and punt return. The Mountaineers then scrimmaged in a two-minute session, pitting the first and second teams against each other for several series (check out of video of those sessions now on the front page of the site). The team then moved back to individual position groupings, before going back to another full scale scrimmage session later on. In all, West Virginia worked 25 five-minute periods, or approximately two hours.
The coaches didn't release a depth chart until after the practice, and that was in the form of WVU's spring prospectus. That often differs some from on-field observations. Following are those from Saturday's session, listed by position and then team.