If you didn't get the chance to catch Saturday's Gold-Blue spring game, you can get caught up here with our notebook.
Quarterback Patrick White had his most effective scrimmage of the spring. He made safe throws, good decisions on when to put the ball away and run, and popped off a couple of eye-opening runs of 31 and 24 yards for touchdowns.
In no way am I trying to suggest that White has won the QB job, or anything close to it. However, he has shown some growth since the beginning of spring. And while he might, in my opinion, have snuck ahead of Dwayne Thompson in the race, beating out Adam Bednarik will be another matter altogether.
Speaking of Bednarik, he again spent the scrimmage signalling in plays from the sidelines. Is that an indicator that a QB, and not a coach, will be performing that duty this fall?
A number of signees were in attendance at the game, including Thor Merrow and family all the way from Georgia. I've had the good fortune to talk with Thor's father Jeff, a former Mountaineer and NFL star, several times since Thor committed to WVU, and I have to say it's been great. The entire Merrow family is very excited about Thor continuing his father's tradition at West Virginia, and they couldn't be nicer. The parents of players offer a different perspective on their sons' careers at WVU, and one of the nicest perks of this job is the opportunity to talk with and get to know them.
Ditto for George Shehl's parents, George and Susan, who were surprised by their son's winning the Nickolich Award from the Blue & Gold News. It's easy to see why so many of the players on the team are quality young men. With parents like these, they have a great foundation to build from.
Accompanying the Merrows on the trip was T.J. Pridemore, son of former Mountaineer great Tom Pridemore. T.J. is a sophomore at Buford High, and is a rising star that WVU could well be recruiting in a couple of years.
Kudos to Rich Rodriguez for allowing fans from the stands to call the first play of each drive in the scrimmage. It was a great touch that brought the crowd closer to the action. Surprisingly, trick plays weren't the most popular choice. Swing passes to running backs and inside runs were more in evidence than reverse passes and other gadgets.
Two of the later callers included a couple of familiar names -- Rhett and Rita Rodriguez. The coach's son and wife both made call s that resulted in good gains. Hmmmm. Either they've been listening to what Coach Rod says, or they may be bucking for some time on the coaching staff.
I've said it before, but it bears repeating. The defense, overall, looks to be a bit faster, and pursues to the ball better. Sweeps, options, reverses and other outside plays weren't very successful, as defenders swarmed to the ball quickly and didn't allow much running room for the offense.
Best move of the spring? Right now there are two contenders -- the switch of Vaughn Rivers to wide receiver and the flip flop of Craig Wilson and Ernest Hunter between nose and tackle. Rivers had a couple of good receptions, and could be a dangerous option on reverses, while Wilson (now at tackle) and Hunter (nose) have both put up very good springs.
Among the other signees in attendance was incoming placekicker Pat McAfee. We'll have an article on McAfee in the coming days, but suffice it to say that he's very confident.
I don't mean to suggest this is a done deal or anything, but what would a backfield of Owen Schmitt and Jason Gwaltney look like? Is there a team that could stand up to 40 combined carries from that duo?
Speaking of Gwaltney, he and half brother Scooter Berry did a good job of staying incognito during the game. Fans didn't find him until about three-fourths of the way through the scrimmage. And then, of course, the autograph assault began. Sitting just a few rows away was J.R. House and his high school assistant coach Scott Tinsley.
Injured spur Mike Lorello made one of two extra point attempts. Lorello, of course, isn't bucking for the kicking job, but Coach Rod let him have a bit of action as he is sitting out while recovering from the broken arm he suffered in the Gator Bowl. His first attempt was a low liner that never got past the line of scrimmage, but the next one cleared the crossbar by a good margin.
Just once, I'd like to have a legitimate count on the number of people in attendance at the game. The announced figure of 6,812 certainly seemed low. If that figure is based on ticket sales, then it didn't include all those who got in free, including students. It certainly looked like at least 10,000 were there.
Running back Bryan Wright, who will transfer after finishing out the semester, was also in attendance to watch his teammates. Wright will attend Shepherd in the fall.
The players out for the coin toss were Jahmile Addae, Ernest Hunter, Garin Justice and Phil Brady.
Now comes the hard part. Three and a half months without football, before the team reassembles in early August. Of course, while you're out playing golf or lounging on the beach (o.k., me too) the team will still be lifting and working to prepare for the upcoming season. Remember that while you are tossing back a frosty one and complaining about the heat! (O.k., me too!)