WVU conducts first spring practice

MORGANTOWN – The weather outside might have been frightful.

But, the mood inside West Virginia University’s indoor practice facility was delightful as fourth-year head coach Dana Holgorsen and his Mountaineers opened spring drills.

“We are excited to get started,” Holgorsen said. “We actually thought about canceling this, because I heard the university would cancel school, but the guys were eager to begin.

“I asked all the assistant coaches what they wanted to do, and they were more eager to start coaching than the kids, who were eager to get going as well.

“We are looking for a lot of fundamental stuff today. There will be some special teams drills then a lot of individual work. It should not be as much teaching what to do, but a lot of technique and how to do things properly because we have a lot more guys coming back than we did last year.”

There will be just enough new faces, both coaches and players, to make the spring an interesting one.

“I think everybody does the same thing in spring. You hopefully have a lot of guys back and the majority of your team. You never will have your full roster. I think last year we had less that half of our team. This year, we have upwards of about 80 percent of our team.”

Two players who won’t participate, however, will be quarterback Clint Trickett and linebacker Jared Barber. Both are still recovering from off-season surgeries.

As expected senior-to-be Paul Millard sits atop the Mountaineers’ depth chart at signal-caller with Fairmont State transfer Logan Moore, Princeton High School redshirt freshman Gregory McPherson and junior college transfer Skyler Howard filling in the final three slots.

Trickett, who started eight games in his first season in the old gold and blue, still will get his opportunity to win the starting quarterback job when WVU takes to the field to open the season against Alabama in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

And, Barber will likewise receive an opportunity to jump ahead of Nick Kwiatkoski, Al-Rasheed Benton and Jewone Snow at the Mike linebacker slot.

“We have a plan,” said the coach. “These first three days will be non-padded and in the Caperton Indoor Facility, so we can teach and not worry about the physical part of it, but the mental part.

“We want to see where they are from the technique and make sure they know what they are doing. We will teach them for three days and then go on spring break.”

At the same time Holgorsen will also get an opportunity to see his newest coaches – Damon Cogdell and Tom Bradley – in action.

“Tom (Bradley) brings a lot to the table. Last time we talked, it was not a done deal, so I could not get into anything. I did not know exactly how he would fit into the puzzle, because if we had not gotten him then we would have gone for the best available coach out there.”

Bradley’s addition, however, has allowed first-year defensive coordinator Tony Gibson to move Cogdell, who was an outstanding linebacker during his playing days at WVU, to that position on the field.

“This is new to Damon as we all know, but he played linebacker. Does that mean he is more comfortable with linebackers? I do not think so.

“It is a new scheme for him, so what I told Damon is that coach Gibson will be working with the front. The coordinator needs to have a good handle on the front. We have a couple of secondary coaches that know exactly what their role is going to be. Obviously, Tony will oversee it all.

“Damon needs to learn the entire front and Tom will help out as much as he can, but primarily he will be with the linebackers.”

West Virginia will return to the Caperton Indoor Facility today. The practice is closed.