MORGANTOWN-The smiles are back on the faces of Parkersburg natives Josh Jenkins and Michael Molinari following their performances in Saturday's annual Gold/Blue Scrimmage.
For Jenkins, the Mountaineers final practice of the spring ended a year long road back for the former Parkersburg High School standout, who missed the entire 2011 season while recovering from a knee injury suffered during last year's spring game.
"I'm happy," explained Jenkins following the scrimmage. "I was a little anxious at the beginning because of what happened last year. But, you can't worry about it because if you do then that is when you are going to get hurt."
A feeling echoed by his second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen.
"We were able to get out of the spring pretty healthy," said the coach. "But, those (injuries) are part of football. You don't want them to occur, but you also can't worry about them because, for the most part, you can't do anything about them."
For Molinari, the spring offered an opportunity for the former Parkersburg South standout to recover from an up-and-down freshman season in Morgantown.
"I thought I had a good spring," said Molinari. "Coach (Joe) DeForest really helped me this spring. He worked a lot on my technique and I felt like I was kicking the ball higher and farther than I ever had by the end of spring."
Molinari and senior Corey Smith took turns as WVU's starting punter with the former-Patriot punting 30 times for 1,116 yards (37.2 yards per punt).
Both also took turns serving as the other's backup when shanked punts sent one to the sideline and into Holgorsen's dog house.
"I guess the biggest thing that I took out of last season was to not get too down on myself when something goes wrong," Molinari said. "I know Corey (Smith) is the No. 1 guy right now and I'm OK with that. But, I also know that I could be out there at any moment so I want to do everything I can to make sure that I am ready to play."
The Mountaineers punted four times during Saturday's game with Molinari averaging 42 yards on his two attempts while Smith averaged 40.5 on his two kicks. Molinari also served as the holder for both Tyler Bitancurt and Smith on field goals and extra points and continued to shine as the Mountaineers made good on all of their PATs and 2-of-3 field goals.
Offensively, Jenkins and his line mates did an admirable job as the Mountaineers gained 600 yards of total offense.
But, the running game appears to still be a work-in-progress while quarterbacks Geno Smith and Paul Millard were sacked five times.
"Overall, I thought we (the line) did a good job," said Jenkins, who returned as WVU's starting left guard. "We still have a lot to do and that begins this summer, but I thought we played physical and I thought our communication was good."
That work, however, will take a week off as the players return to the classroom to take final exams this week.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org