The Mountaineers, in their second day in pads, went live for multiple series, pitting its first and second team units against each other about 30 minutes into the practice. The goal, head coach Dana Holgorsen said, wasn't to simulate any situations other than getting the offense and defense to play fast and become accustomed to lining up and operating quickly. As such, the team didn't even track down or distance - or even tackle to the ground - but rather worked on getting set and getting the snaps off in as fast a pace as possible while maintaining poise and control.
The first team offense moved the ball effectively, mixing a pair of Skyler Howard completions with some shifty running from Rushel Shell. After Howard's initial pass was batted down, the senior hit Shelton Gibson for a 20-yard gain down the right sideline.Howard then dumped the ball to Shell for another solid gain before finding Ka'Raun White across the middle for what would have been a first down.
WVU went back to Shell, who pounded over the right side for another five-plus yard chunk before the secondary blanketed the wideouts on the next snap, forcing Howard to double clutch and then escape the pocket. He rolled right and threw the ball away to end the series. Included on the first team unit was Tyler Orlosky at center, Adam Pankey and Kyle Bosch at the guard spots and Yodny Cajuste and Marcell Lazard at tackle. Holgorsen said Lazard had his best practice of his career on Thursday, and as such was rewarded with the first team nod over Colton McKivitz, a redshirt freshman also vying for the starting spot on the right side.
The wideouts were White, Gibson and Daikiel Shorts, with Howard and Shell in the backfield. Defensively, the front three were as expected in Darrien Howard at nose, flanked by Christian Brown and Noble Nwachukwu. Sean Walters played will, with Al-Rasheed Benton in the middle and Justin Arndt at strongside. First team corners were Rasul Douglas on the right side and Nana Kyeremeh Jarrod Harper was at bandit and Kyzir White got the "start" at spur over Marvin Gross, who was riding a bike, sidelined with an undisclosed injury. The free safety was Dravon Askew-Henry.
The second team offense was led by William Crest, with Kennedy McKoy and Justin Crawford as the backs, and Steven Smothers, Devante Mathis and Ricky Rogers at wideout. Ja'HShaun Seider played center, with Grant Lingafelter and Matt Jones at guard. The tackles were McKivitz on the left side and Josh Sills on the right. (Don't read too much into that - or any of these moves like he receivers above - as WVU continues to shuffle players).
On defense, the front three were Alec Shriner at nose with at Adam Shuler tackle along with Jon Lewis, who has flipped back and forth between defensive line and fullback/tight end throughout his career. David Long played will, Hodari Christian the mike and Xavier Preston at sam. Jeremy Tyler was the bandit, with Khairi Shariff at free safety and Jake Long mixing in as well. Iowa transfer Maurice Fleming was at left corner, with Mike Daniels on the right side.
Crest started the series with a quick toss to McKoy in motion out of the backfield, then handed to Crawford off the right side for a short gain. Crest then hit Mathis on a quick out before handing to McKoy after a high snap. Crest then scrambled for eight yards off a well-covered play action pass, and Crawford showed good vision and cutability in slicing his way for a five yard gain to end the drive.
Gibson caught a long pass in the next first team series for a score before the end of the media availability time.
West Virginia started the session with stretching and some special teams work, including four field goals each from Mike Molina and Josh Lambert. Molina was 4-for-4, the longest from 45 yards, while Lambert hit his first three tries, but missed the 45-yarder when the ball came out low and hit the right upright. The quarterbacks were also in view for the first time during the media session, with Will Grier throwing with Howard, Chris Chugunov and others (video to come of that drill).
The team then broke into individual units, with the offensive and defensive lines working explosion off the ball and footwork and hand placement, while the backs, receivers and some quarterbacks - as seen below - practiced receptions on balls thrown by running backs coach JaJuan Seider. Meanwhile, kickoff coverage and return we worked at the opposite end, with Gary Jennings, Ka'Raun White, Marcus Simms and Steven Smothers the primary return men. All four were back deep during punt work.
West Virginia then went to its tempo scrimmage work to end the fist 30 minutes of practice. Xavier Pegues was walking around the field, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery that will sideline him until late October at the earliest.
The next open media session is scheduled to be held Tuesday. Check out the clip above, and the link here for our other video clips of the scrimmage.