West Virginia Held Its Third Open Practice on Saturday, Conducting Individual and Unit Drills and Full Scale Scrimmage Work

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia's third open practice session of the spring was full of highlights on both sides, which obviously created some lowlights as well.

The most obvious observation was that, on both the first and second teams, WVU's offense was able to move the ball successfully through the air. Quarterback Skyler Howard and receiver Shelton Gibson hooked up for scores of 20 and 75 yards, with the wideout beating cornerback Rasul Douglas both times. But Douglas had his share of quality plays as well, returning one errant Howard throw down the sideline for a touchdown on one of the initial possessions for he first team offense.

It was that kind of day all around, with the offense getting the best of the defense passing, and the defense limiting the offensive ability to rush the football.

As they have all spring, the Mountaineers matched ones vs ones and two vs twos with smattering of a third team that saw far fewer reps. The depth chart remained largely unchanged, with the coaching staff still trying multiple pairings at various positions along the line and throughout the skill slots. With Rushel Shell a bit banged up - the back worked in some, but took fewer snaps than in previous scrimmages - Kennedy McKoy saw significant time with the first team. But the newcomer wasn't able to consistently break big runs as he had in previous outings. The defense was solid against the run, but did allow numerous big passing plays, as detailed by corner Nana Kyeremeh, above. Besides Gibson's pair of scores, Gary Jennings, Michael Ferns and Ka'Raun White also caught touchdown passes, with Jennings taking away a nicely lofted ball over Jordan Adams for a 50-yard score.

Ferns' brother, Brendan, a Scout.com four star linebacker who signed with the Mountaineers in February, was in attendance at the practice, held on the newly-turfed outdoor practice fields adjacent to the stadium. 

Placekicker Mike Molina, seeing the bulk of the workload with Josh Lambert suspended for spring practice and the first three games next season, hit a 43-yarder, and was consistent on elevation and distance. He did hook a pair of kicks, but has shown solid range inside 45 yards. William Crest ran with the second team at times and was able to complete some midrange passes as well. Where before Crest had been used mainly as a pure runner, he showed a nice mix today, and placed some passes in tight windows, one a nice throw back across his body. There's no questioning the arm strength or the athleticism, but Crest will have to continue to increase his accuracy if he expects to get into the mix with Howard or back-up Chris Chugunov. He did score on a nice 20-yard gainer on the ground, and Chugunov continued to show his ability to thread a very nice ball, with solid delivery. 

After warm-ups and stretching, WVU moved into individual player and unit drills - including some kickoff coverage work -  then pieced the units together during the scrimmage, which ran approximately 100 plays. A quick cool down followed, and the team was off the field by 2 p.m., meaning the entire session was just a bit over two hours.

There were no major injuries, though David Sills came of the field and iced his back after taking a shot on a pass across the middle. Fellow wideout Marcus Simms was again absent as he deals with a death in the family. Overall, West Virginia is remarkably healthy, and head coach Dana Holgorsen noted before the practice that he is enjoying this time with the team and that there's still significant work left over the next two practices on Tuesday and Thursday before the April 23 Gold-Blue game at the Greenbrier. Holgorsen said the set-up will be very much like Saturday, with ones vs ones and twos vs twos as opposed to a true game format.  

 


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