West Virginia Shows Potential, Promise In Wrapping Spring Camp With Gold-Blue Game

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - News, notes, observations and analysis from West Virginia's Gold-Blue spring game, where the defense defeated the offense 44-21 via a convoluted scoring system.

West Virginia announced multiple award winners prior to the game, including the Tommy Nickolich Award recipient in long snapper Nick Meadows. Presented by the Blue & Gold News, the award honors the walk-on team member who has distinguished himself through attitude and work ethic. The award is presented in memory of Tommy Nickolich, a Fairmont, W.Va., native who was a walk-on at WVU before passing away from cancer prior to his junior season in 1983.

WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen also announced that linebacker David Long, defensive end Jon Lewis and fullback Elijah Wellman received the Iron Mountaineer Award as the most outstanding members of the offseason strength and conditioning program. 

The game, which lasted approximately 90 minutes, consisted of the first team offense working against the first team defense while the second team offense was matched against the second team defense. The offense received points in typical fashion for touchdowns, point afters and field goals, while the defense was awarded points for turnovers, three-and-outs and defensive stops. That has often led to lopsided scoring in the past, and this was no different as WVU's defense played well, but wasn't as dominating as the score indicated.

The depth chart for the first and second teams went as follows, with the positions and players listed below. As always, they are subject to change.

First Team Offense

LT: Josh Sills, LG: Kyle Bosch, C: Matt Jones, RG: Grant Lingafelter, RT: Colton McKivitz, QB: Will Greer, RB: Justin Crawford, WR: Jovon Durante, WR: David Sills, WR: Ricky Rogers, WR: Gary Jennings, FB: Elijah Wellman.

First Team Defense

DE: Adam Shuler, NT: Xavier Pegues, DE: Reese Donahue, CB: Elijah Battle, CB: Mike Daniels, Bandit: Toyous Avery, LB: David Long, MLB: Al-Rasheed Benton, LB: Hodari Christian, Spur: Marvin Gross, FS: Jovanni Stewart.

Second Team Offense

LT: Ja'HShaun Seider, LG: Chase Behrndt, C: Ray Raulerson, RG: Kelby Wickline, RT: Rob Dowdy, QB: Chris Chugunov, RB: Tevin Bush/Martell Pettaway, WR: Connor Watts, WR: Druw Bowen, WR: Dominique Maiden, WR: Alejandro Marenco.

Second Team Defense

DE: Ezekiel Rose, NT: Jaleel Fields, DE: Jon Lewis, CB: Jake Long, CB: Sean Mahone, Bandit: Derrek Pitts, LB: Logan Thimons, MLB: Brendan Ferns, LB: Adam Hensley, Spur: Shane Commodore, FS: Toyous Avery.

Safety Kyzir White, running back Kennedy McKoy and quarterback Cody Saunders, among others, did not play. Stats are listed below.

Other Notes and Observations

  • There is an obvious chemistry being built between Grier and Sills. Grier finished 12-for-18 passing for 202 yards. Sills tallied 96 yards on six grabs, and was a key to Grier's 7-for-7 start. The timing between the two is steady, and Sills has shown the ability to adjust to the ball in the air.
  • Martell Pettaway remains a powerful force between the tackles - the back amassed a pedestrian 334 yards on seven carries - but he showed the ability to navigate for tough yardage and continued forward progress after contact. 
  • Brendan Ferns seemed to move laterally well on his repaired knee. The linebacker, projected as the back-up at mike before last season, is nearing a full recovery and has begun to trust the knee, according to coordinator Tony Gibson. Ferns played in the middle again with the second team and had one solo tackle.
  • Plenty of former Mountaineers were there in Geno Smith, Shelton Gibson, Kevin White, Jeff Hostetler, KJ Dillon, Wendell Smallwood and Wes Tonkery. Smith made a late appearance at QB, throwing an 85-yard touchdown pass to Gibson with Kevin White on the other side of the field. It was a humorous highlight that added the 85 yards to an offensive total that reached 300 without it after Holgorsen said he "got bored" in the fourth quarter.
  • Kyle Bosch suffered what appears to be a knee sprain in the first half, but walked off the field under his own power. He did not return. 
  • Greer's first public pass as a Mountaineer was a quick strike to Gary Jennings. Holgorsen said the Florida transfer was "as good as expected" in the spring, while former head coach Don Nehlen gave Grier positive reviews throughout the contest as he watched from the end zone.
  • Crawford opened the offensive scoring with a 51-yard touchdown run on the first drive. It was one of just two scores on the day for the offense outside of Smith's throw, however.
  • Chugunov went three-and-out on his first series, and completed just 10-of-22 passes for 98 yards with two sacks.
  • Marenco continued to make plays at receiver after being singled out by Durante as having the opportunity to break out in the spring and fall. The reserve had two grabs for 10 yards, but is expected to be buried on the depth chart as fall camp ends.
  • Nine different players caught passes, while five backs took carries.
  • Grier's touch is solid all over the field, and when he misses a deep ball, he misses it long or outside the hash where only the receiver has a chance to make a play. What wasn't on display in the spring game was Grier's running ability, as WVU is protecting the starter from hits.
  • The defense began to assert itself late as a series off second and third team players mixed in with a continually running clock. The mishmash caused timing issues, and bogged down what was otherwise a decent display on both sides.
  • Jovanni Stewart continued to make plays in the secondary, and finished with a game-high 5 tackles. Gross had four, all solo, while seven players recorded tackles for loss. Pitts had a fumble recovery, while Ezekiel Rose, Al Benton and Stone Wolfley (moved from offense to defensive line in the spring) had sacks.
  • Holgorsen noted he was mostly pleased with the development on both sides during the 15-practice spring session, but that without key contributors like White, Dravon Askew-Henry and others, that the Mountaineers "couldn't get much better" until the fall.
  • Holgorsen also called center Matt Jones, who is attempting to replace Rimington finalist Tyler Orlosky, the surprise of the spring and noted that the line had a chance to be better this season than last.
  • Holgorsen was pleased with the way the players "attacked" the spring game on both sides, using it as both a showcase and reward for completing a productive session. Note: Stats below reflect offense numbers; scoring system did not account for defensive "points."


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