MORGANTOWN-Third year head coach Dana Holgorsen will lead his West Virginia University Mountaineer football team into its final spring practice when the annual Gold/Blue Scrimmage takes place beginning at 2 p.m. today at Milan Puskar Stadium.
"We have a long way to go on all three sides of the ball," said Holgorsen. "We are not prepared to name any starters, and in my mind, I am not prepared to figure out what type of team we will have yet.
"I do like the attention and focus that these guys have been playing with. When they come in, they are eage to learn. Nobody thinks we are any good. I encourage our guys not to read anything online, on the message boards or any other publications.
"No one knows what our team is going to be like. The only people that can dictate that are the coaches and players. We have to come in and just get better every day."
One thing every fan knows is that the 2013 edition of the Mountaineers will be without some very talented players-especially on offense.
Gone will be quarterback Geno Smith and wide receiver/running back Tavon Austin. The two are coming off senior campaigns which have vaulted them into becoming possible first round picks in the NFL's upcoming draft. Also gone will be junior Stedman Bailey, who elected to forego his senior season in hopes of hearing his name called on draft day.
The losses don't end there, however. The offense will also be without running back Shawne Alston as well as linemen Joe Madsen, Jeff Braun and Josh Jenkins. All in all, the Mountaineers will have to replace 22 seniors from last year's 7-6 squad that lost to Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Least hit was the defensive unit. But, after surrendering yards and points at a school-record pace, the unit has a lot of improvement to make if WVU is to have any chance at a successful season in 2013.
The good news, however, is that top hitters Karl Joseph and Isaiah Bruce are back as well as the front three of Will Clarke, Shaq Rowell and Kyle Rose.
"Everything has been good," said Clarke. "I've been learning more, getting better and just trying to be perfect. I am looking forward to having a good game and a good scrimmage, along with teaching and learning more."
The most anticipated battle of the spring, at least from a fans' perspective, has been between returning backup quarterback Paul Millard and the player many believe will jump over the junior-to-be when the Mountaineers open against William and Mary-Ford Childress.
"We will mix them," said Holgorsen. "Paul (Millard) will go with the first team and then Ford (Childress) will go with the first team. No only do they switch, but the receivers rotate. The linemen will also go back and forth.
"We keep the quarterback with a specific center, and that changes every other practice. We will keep doing the same thing during camp. There will be a lot of moving parts during the spring game, and I hope we win."
Gates will open at 1 p.m. and tickets are available for $10 each. A portion of the money raised goes to the WVU Children's Hospital. Fans are encouraged to attend the third Mountaineer Gear sale that will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility.