Depth concerns Holgorsen

MORGANTOWN – The biggest non-surprise for West Virginia and third-year head coach Dana Holgorsen coming out of Monday’s third practice revolved around the installation of a new offense minus Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.

“It (the offense) didn’t look good (the first three days of install),” Holgorsen said. “We got through it. I’m happy with the communication on the three days.

“Same thing on defense – we are happy with the communication and the attentiveness.”

But will that be enough to lift the Mountaineers out of the 7-6 slump they indured in 2012?

“Right now, we are playing about three or four guys per position,” the coach continued. “Obviously, that has to get narrowed down to a two-deep. Even more so than spring ball, you are playing guys that will not be playing in games.

“We will go through it three more times over the next three days, and that’s not even in a live setting. We went through it with the quarterbacks as well. We are evaluating them on how they run plays and how they communicate. In all the position battles, it’s about getting players in positions where they just know what to do.”

Areas receiving the most attention are quarterback, running back, wide receiver and safety.

“We are fortunate to have a bunch of bodies right now,” Holgorsen said. “You develop a two-deep system and let the players fight it out, which benefits everyone.”

The battles involve both incumbents and players who are calling the old gold and blue home for the first time.

At quarterback the battle has come down to incumbents Paul Millard and Ford Childress and former Florida State Seminole Clint Trickett while leading returning rusher Andrew Buie not only is being challenged by 2012 teammate Dustin Garrison for the starting job, but also newcomers Dreamius Smith and former University of Houston standout Charles ims.

Same story at receiver where Ivan McCartney, who left the program for personal reasons a year ago, returns and is joined by returnees Dante Campbell, K.J. Myers, Jordan Thompson and walk-on Connor Arlia. Pushing that unit for playing time will be newcomers Daikiel Shorts, Kevin White and Mario Alford. It’s the same scenario on defense.

“We are not very deep at safety,” said Holgorsen. “It’s similar to what we had last year. Karl Joseph and Darwin Cook are playing well.

“Looking at it this year, we have Cook, (K.J.) Dillon, Joseph and a lot of young guys.”

Among the latter group are Jarrod Harper, Malik Greaves and Jeremy Tyler. But, even though first-year defensive coordinator Keith Patterson has made the system more simple to understand, it has not resulted in players being immediately ready to play.

“Jarrod (Harper), Malik (Greaves) and Jeremy (Tyler) are not ready to play yet and have to keep improving,” Holgorsen said. “For us to get better depth wise, those guys have to get better. After (a few) practices, I’m not prepared to say that they are ready.”

Words that could just as easily be used to describe the entire Mountaineer team.

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Josh Harrison homered leading off the bottom of the ninth, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

Harrison sent a fastball from Miami’s Mike Dunn (2-3) into the first row of seats in left-center field for his first career walk-off homer.

Dunn had worked out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the eighth.

Bryan Morris (5-4) pitched a perfect top of the ninth for the victory. The Pirates have won three straight and are a season-high 24 games over .500 (68-44).

Neil Walker had three hits for the Pirates. Andrew McCutchen had two hits, including a two-run double, for Pittsburgh.

Donovan Solano went 3 for 5 for the Marlins but Miami left 11 runners on base.

Pittsburgh’s Jeff Locke has been one of baseball’s biggest surprises, the 25-year-old soaring from fringe starter to All-Star. He’s had trouble working deep into games since returning from his trip to New York for the midsummer classic, and for a while it appeared he was headed for another early exit after lasting just four innings against St. Louis in his last start.

Miami turned three singles – none of them sharply hit – into a run in the second then added two more in the third behind four straight singles to start the inning. The Marlins, however, couldn’t pile on and Locke eventually settled down. The lefthander allowed three runs on nine hits – all singles – in 5 2-3 innings, walking three and striking out four as his ERA ticked up to 2.47.

Locke left two runners on in the sixth. He also left with a no decision as Vin Mazzaro retired Ed Lucas with two runners on to end the inning.

Henderson Alvarez handcuffed the Pirates in their previous meeting, limiting Pittsburgh to just two hits in six innings of a victory two weeks ago. The Pirates, however, briefly figured him out in the third. McCutchen doubled off the wall to drive in two runs and Pedro Alvarez followed with his first triple of the year to tie it.

The Pirates never threatened against the Miami starter again, and Alvarez left after seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits, striking out six while not issuing a walk.

That left it up to the bullpens and Pittsburgh’s “Shark Tank” continued its dominance. Mazzaro escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh and the Marlins went meekly in the eighth or ninth before Harrison stepped to the plate.

NOTES: Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said LHP Francisco Liriano deserves to be in the NL Cy Young conversation. Liriano is 12-4 with a 2.02 ERA in 16 starts and was named the NL Player of the Week after picking up two victories between July 29-Aug. 4 … The series continues on Wednesday when Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton (3-3, 4.07 ERA) faces Tom Koehler (3-6, 4.34). Morton gave up five runs in six innings of a loss to St. Louis in his previous start. Koehler pitched six shutout innings against the Mets in a win last Thursday.