Day One In The Books
MORGANTOWN – Let the excitement, and expectations, begin.
Third-year head coach Dana Holgorsen opened training camp Friday for the West Virginia University football team with nearly as many questions as he had players as the Mountaineers look to bounce back from a 7-6 campaign a year ago.
“Day one is completed, which is typically like most day ones I would imagine for everyone across the country,” Holgorsen said. “Everyone’s energy level is high, attitude is good, and everyone’s excited to get back to playing ball.
“It was a successful day. Camp is a process so we will line up and do it again tomorrow, before we actually get pads on and can start hitting each other a little bit, which is obviously a little bit more like real football.”
But, unlike his previous two seasons with the old gold and blue, Holgorsen will not have No. 12 (Geno Smith), No. 1 (Tavon Austin) or No. 3 (Stedman Bailey) to pace the Mountaineers’ offense through preseason drills. Nor will he have 60 percent of the offensive front that helped the team put up a whopping 513 points (39.5 ppg) and 6,526 yards (502.0 pg) last season.
“It is college football,” Holgorsen continued. “Guys graduate and you move on and replace them. Sometimes you replace a lot of seniors, sometimes you don’t. That is not something that I worry about.
“Every year is different, and you can’t worry about the previous year. If you got a lot of seniors coming back, sometimes it is hard to get them to progress. I’m not losing sleep over the fact we lost a lot of seniors, and we are all excited about coaching the current guys that we have and getting them ready to be the next superstars.”
Several of those, however, were not on the Mountaineers’ roster following their 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
“Yes, we talked about that last night in our team meeting. Everybody in the whole room can become leaders. If I ask you to define a leader, I would get a hundred different answers in this room.
“They have to lead themselves first and do everything right, and then they got to play. Once they can get on the field, one of our best leaders may be the guy that plays six snaps a game. It just depends on how you want to define a leader. I think that will happen based on what I saw today.”
One of those could be former Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett, the son of former Mountaineer offensive line coach Rick Trickett.
“Presence,” said the coach. “His (Trickett’s) presence. You throw a guy in there who is taking snaps in our offense for the first time, and if there is hesitation and panic, nervousness, lack of communication and all that stuff, then we’ve got a little bit of an issue.
“I knew he would handle that well. That’s not something I’m concerned with, with him. Just by the calmness that he possesses. Ford (Childress) and Paul (Millard) possess that calmness right now, too. Because they understand what’s going on around them. I think Clint can get in the mix to be the guy, because he has that in his personality.”
Other newcomers being looked to for immediate impact include incoming freshman Shelton Gibson, junior college transfer Mario Alford, placekicker Josh Lambert and punter Nick O’Toole.
WVU will continue preseason drills today (Saturday), take Sunday off and then return to the practice field at 5 p.m. on Monday.