One day after WVU's first officiated scrimmage of the fall, Rich Rodriguez was upbeat at the conclusion of Thursday's practice.
Rodriguez expressed general satisfaction with the intrasquad scrimmage, while noting that Friday's practice and Saturday's scrimmage will be an integral time for his football team.
"There was some good and bad," Rodriguez said of the scrimmage. "I was pretty pleased with the execution on both sides of the ball. It was a pretty good scrimmage, but there's still a lot to work on."
Rodriguez lauded the efforts on both sides of the ball, and said he sensed balance between the two sides in yesterday's scrimmage.
"I told the team that it's good when the defense wins some, and the offense wins some," Rodriguez said. "That kind of balance is a better feeling than one side of the ball dominating."
The team has one more day of practice on Friday and another officiated scrimmage Saturday before students begin classes Monday.
"This is important for us because it's all football for our guys the next couple days, because starting next week they've got a lot on their plate," Rodriguez said. "The experienced guys know how to balance that. The younger guys we usually have to educate a little bit."
For a team lacking a wealth of veterans to carry a hefty leadership role, Rodriguez was pleased with the level of responsbility and maturity in this group.
Unlike in past years, Rodriguez only required freshman to stay in a hotel through fall camp, and the entire team responded by meeting their curfews and making meetings on time.
The same couldn't be said for Coach Rod.
"They're waiting on me for the meetings, and they know my $25 Wal-Mart watch doesn't work right all the time, so sometimes my watch runs a little bit fast or slow," Rodriguez joked.
On the injury front, Jason Gwaltney missed Thursday's practice with a mild sprain he suffered in Wednesday's scrimmage. Travis Garrett is expected back soon, with the help of a special brace. Brandon Myles' hamstring injury is considered minor, and he is being held out in an effort to not aggravate the injury further. Rayshawn Bolden and Dwayne Thompson were also missing from the receiving corps on Thursday.
Two more true freshmen - Reed Williams and Johnny Holmes - are not expected to redshirt this season. Rodriguez said the pair were initially expected to take a redshirt, but have responded well recently and will both factor in at linebacker and on special teams.
Rodriguez met with his coaches Thursday morning to begin work on a two-deep depth chart. The coaches will reconvene after Saturday's scrimmage to begin finalizing the two-deep and this year's scout teams.
Approximately 65 players will make the trip to Syracuse - the typical size for a travel squad. However, Rodriguez noted that a greater percentage of those 65 would likely play than in past seasons.
Rodriguez also liked the balance shown in Wednesday's scrimmage, when each side had some big plays.
"It's good when the defense wins some and the offense wins some. Yesterday was probably the best balance we've had, even though offensively we had a few mistakes. We moved the chains and put some points on the board."
Rodriguez singled out Ridwan Malik, Darren Brownlee, Reed Williams and Johnny Holmes as standouts in Wednesday's scrimmage. He indicated that Williams and Holmes will likely avoid redshirts this year.
"I think if the freshman hadn't been here in July, they might not have been ready physically or mentally," he added.
Saturday's scrimmage will feature a good deal of work on special teams, including the first matchups of the number one units on each side of the ball.