West Virginia Football: Week 1 Spring Practice Stock Report
Very few names were dropped by the West Virginia football coaching staff after the first week of the Mountaineers' 2013 spring practice, so the stock is relatively stagnant in the early going.
This will be the first of a weekly installment in which we'll take a look at who is rising and falling in the race for playing time at WVU this spring.
Because of the lack of news here in the first week, we'll take a look at what the WVU coaching staff is saying about the work that has been done so far.
And since the Mountaineer staff isn't naming names at this point, we'll take a look at our list of must-know names for West Virginia fans for this year's spring practice.
Finally, we'll also take a quick look to center stage and see just how the WVU quarterback battle is shaping up in Morgantown.
Dana Holgorsen Quotes
There isn't a whole lot to take from what Holgorsen said about the start of spring practice. He reported that the energy and mindset seems to be very positive, as there are open positions all across the board on offense, defense and special teams.
He seems to like the staff he has under him at this point, even despite the widespread changes. This could end up being a great match, as the players and coaches are both ready to move onward and upward.
Between all the new coaches and new players, this is about as close as possible to being an entirely new team.
Holgorsen also quipped about the heavy losses WVU incurred, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Part of his final quote was cut out for length purposes, but he essentially explained that Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Joe Madsen and others all started in the same position as the current players did.
They all earned their playing time just like this group will, so it will be very interesting to see which players rise to the top.
Holgorsen on the spring outlook:
After the second day of non-padded practice, there isn’t a tremendous amount to report on. It will be a couple weeks before we can build some sort of depth chart...On all three sides of the ball, it’s pretty fresh, and it’s pretty energetic, the guys are eager and I would say the same thing from a coaching standpoint as well. We are excited about getting to work every day, we are excited about getting to coach these guys, and I think it will be a fun and productive spring going forward.
Holgorsen on coaching changes:
The morale as a whole is good because we have a bunch of guys that are excited about the opportunity to be here. They all bring something different to the table. They were hired for specific reasons. They are motivated for a variety of reasons, but the biggest thing is bringing in ideas, having a voice and bringing some specific things to the table.
Holgorsen on offensive losses:
Everybody gets up in arms thinking, “Oh my gosh, how are these guys going to play football without these guys who are going to be drafted in the NFL.” It happens every year, and in every different program across the country you lose people and you try to move forward...this gives younger guys the opportunity to step up and believe that they are the guy. That naturally happens, guys get older and get more reps, but also the burden is on their shoulders to become better players. I’m looking forward to seeing which guys those are going to be.
Video and transcription of Dana Holgorsen's Week 1 spring press conference can be found at WVUSports.com.
Assistant Coach Quotes
The quote from offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is interesting, as he was quick to point out the negatives of the first day in pads. However, this is most likely his way of motivating his players to do better and be better as the spring goes on. The only way to go is up at this point.
West Virginia's newest coach, JaJuan Seider, seems to be enjoying his transition upstate from Marshall to WVU. Luckily, to help him with the quick turnaround, he has one of the most experienced units on the offense underneath him at running back.
We finally have a couple of names mentioned by defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, and he only singles out West Virginia's two best defenders from 2012.
It is clear that they'll be the leaders of the defense again in 2013, but Patterson also revealed that the Mountaineers should be more versatile and improved as a whole, with more defenders contributing than just Isaiah Bruce and Karl Joseph.
Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson on the first practice in pads:
There was a lot of bad, not a lot of good to be honest. It was pretty sporadic out there. At some point, I think when putting the pads on, you forget about certain things. I think that you can’t really go into the first day of practice, with a very high level of expectations. We could have been more physical, but it is also the first day in pads.
Running backs coach JaJuan Seider on the transition from Marshall to WVU:
There are a lot of similarities to what we did at Marshall; I just have to get the different terminology down. There are also some different things that are coached up here, which is good. I think anytime you can continue to learn is good. I get to learn a new offense, and even with some things transferring, certain plays may be different, even though they go by the same name.
Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson on the return of Karl Joseph and Isaiah Bruce:
It’s a good thing; you hope it’s a good thing. Both Karl and Isaiah are really good football players. Hopefully with the way we are built this year that we will be more multiple, and then you can get more guys involved. It won’t be just two people making plays. We can keep people off-balance with how they are going to attack us, and get more guys involved on defense. A big emphasis for us has been gang tackling and swarming the ball.
Full West Virginia assistant coach interview transcriptions can be found at WVUSports.com.
Names to Know
RB Dreamius Smith
Scott Grayson of WVIllustrated reported that Dreamius Smith has looked the part at running back so far in spring practice, but it's still too early to tell if he'll end up as the main man in the backfield.
Smith brings a blend of size and speed that other runners on the roster simply don't, so he may very well end up taking the majority of the carries out of the backfield in 2013.
CB Vernon Davis, Brandon Napoleon
With the cornerback position wide open, a host of newcomers and young players will have the opportunity this spring and summer to earn playing time for the upcoming fall season.
Brandon Napoleon and Vernon Davis could very well make their way into the rotation on the outside of the defense, especially with fellow corners Avery Williams and Terrell Chestnut either limited or out for the entire spring.
However, they are far from being the only two youngsters vying for the openings. There are close to a dozen corners competing for the open slots.
WR Jordan Thompson, Kevin White
Despite being one of the few returning receivers with experience, the undersized Jordan "Squirt" Thompson has flown under the radar going into the spring. He was tabbed by some as the Tavon Austin-in-waiting, but struggled through an underwhelming 2012 campaign.
Still, he could end up making his way back into the starting four on the outside while also taking on a returner's role on special teams.
Perhaps the polar opposite of Thompson, junior college transfer Kevin White measures in at 6'3", 211 pounds and brings a physical presence and skill set to the receiver position that West Virginia really hasn't had since the late Chris Henry was drafted in 2005.
With that kind of size and experience, he could end up as the go-to guy for whoever wins the quarterback battle for the Mountaineers.
WVU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson only named junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress as the two signal-callers splitting the snaps in spring practice (Via WVUSports.com):
I think both of those guys (Paul Millard and Ford Childress) are approaching practice differently. They are both battling for the job so they are getting 50-50 reps. There’s no clear cut quarterback. That’s also true with a lot of positions. We have a lot of competition, which is a good thing.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean that athletic true freshman Chavas Rawlins is completely out of the running for the job. Still new to the program, Rawlins will likely need some time to learn the system before he can truly compete for the starting position.
For what it's worth, Scott Grayson of WVIllustrated noted an improvement in Childress' footwork from last season.
Regardless, we still have a very long way to go for a battle that may not be decided until the late summer or fall.