Jock Sanders wrapped up his final spring with the Mountaineers with an impressive showing in the scrimmage, which marked the end of spring drills for the football team.
While the contest is often an opportunity for those who don't get much playing time in the regular season to shine, WVU's coaches seemed to take a different approach, despite pre-game statements that hinted at limited use of the team's bell cows. Both Sanders and senior running back Noel Devine were featured in the scrimmage, much to the delight of the pair.
"Coach Stew told us we were going to play quite a bit so I was like ‘Why not give the fans what they came for?'" said Sanders confidently. "[They want] some excitement so we did what we did."
The game was played in a different format than it has been in previous years. Instead using a modified offense vs. defense scoring system or splitting the teams up evenly, the squads were separated mostly by depth chart. That put the first team and some reserves on the Blue squad, with the rest of the backups on the Gold team. A hand ful of players, including Shawne Alston, Will Johnson and Darwin Cook switched sides, as did Coley White, who played the sandlot role of "All-time quarterback" for both units.
The format did provide a more familiar format for fans, and although the Blue team racked up 38 points and most of the big plays, Sanders would have preferred a little different scenario.
"I kind of wish we would have done it differently," said Sanders with a smile. "I wish we would have split me and Noel [Devine] up and then had us pick the offensive teams. It would make us compete more with him and I playing against each other. We could have had our own little draft and picked the offensive teams." However, both of the offensive playmakers suited up for the Bleu, with predictable results. Devine rushed for 73 yards and one touchdown while Sanders had eight receptions for 70 yards and another score.
Although the duo stuck out offensively for the Mountaineers, Sanders was pleasantly surprised with the performance of sophomore quarterback White.
"I knew Coley was going to be a great passer and be able to do things that people didn't think he would be able to do," said Sanders. "He works hard. He's going to keep working every day to get better. He's a White. Look at his brother. He gets better each and every day."
Despite the fact that players and coaches never seem to be truly satisfied with a performance, Sanders saw some highlights in the performance of his team over the last 15 practices of the spring.
"We had a great spring," he noted. "We are just looking forward to the summer and looking forward to the fall. We're going to the top. We're not going to have any steps backwards. We just have to keep going with the flow."
While Sanders was pleased with the team's spring practice and perform in the scrimmage, he still believes that the team has a lot to work on in preparation for the season opener this fall.
"As myself, I don't think we were sharp every day," said Sanders. "That's the thing we want to be sharp every day. We had some great practices and we had some bad practices. We're trying to get consistent. That's what is going to set us apart from everybody else in the Big East."
All in all, the new night game atmosphere for the Gold-Blue game seemed to be a hit. "It felt like a night game to me," said Sanders. "It was a scrimmage but just seeing the fans come out and show their support was a good thing. This is my last go around so I had fun. I enjoyed it."