Holgorsen wants a preseason scrimmage

WVU begins mock week before Hokies

MORGANTOWN — Let’s face it, Mountaineer Nation is ready to see some ‘live’ football.

And, they aren’t the only ones wanting to see the No. 22 (AP) ranked Mountaineers in action.

“So, I really wish this was game week,” seventh-year head coach Dana Holgorsen said on Tuesday. “We’ve been practicing for a month. I don’t know why the first game couldn’t be this week.

“There’s a whole lot of FCS games this weekend and some FBS games. I just don’t understand what is so special about that (Labor Day) weekend. I think you need about three to four and a half weeks before that first game.”

That doesn’t mean that the extra days haven’t been beneficial to Holgorsen, his staff, and WVU’s players.

“I think it was beneficial for our student-athletes to get some extra time off. And, it was beneficial for our coaches because they got to spend more time breaking down film and seeing just where we needed to work.”

West Virginia, like the vast majority of teams playing on the FBS level, will open the 2017 season a week from Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, against longtime rival Virginia Tech.

“We’ll start talking about Virginia Tech today,” added the coach. “A week from now we can will be full go for Tech. That’s what is on my mind.”

The former-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, Houston and Texas Tech has an idea that might make the long preseason go a little bit faster, however.

“That (a scrimmage) would be cool, but it will never happen. It just gets to the point, and it does for everybody, where you just don’t know (what you have) because you haven’t gone up against somebody else.”

Since his last meeting with the media, Holgorsen has learned that sophomore wide receiver Marcus Simms will not be available for the opening game against the Hokies, and that junior wideout Jovon Durante won’t be on the Old Gold and Blue’s roster when it takes the field at 7:30 p.m.

“Our starters (at receiver) have been starters since day one. Yeah, we’d like to play more than three, but those others haven’t really separated themselves yet in practice and we are still looking for who will fill the depth chart at those positions.”

That means that the Mountaineers will go into the Virginia Tech game with three known commodities lining up to haul in passes from University of Florida transfer Will Grier — redshirt senior Ka’Raun White, junior Gary Jennings and junior college (and former WVU receiver) David Sills V.

White returns from a knee injury which cost him most of the Iowa State game, all of the Baylor game as well as WVU’s Russell Athletic Bowl contest against Miami. The lanky receiver hauled in 48 passes for 583 yards and five scores in 11 games a year ago.

Jennings, who was the team’s primary punt returner, played in all 13 games last season, catching 10 passes for 165 yards and a pair of scores while Sills returns after spending last year playing quarterback at El Camino College.

Fans, however, will remember the 6-foot, 4-inch player as the guy who caught the winning touchdown pass in WVU’s Cactus Bowl win over Arizona State.

The lack of known commodities at receiver has made the coaching staff look at others who could help alleviate the shortage.

“We’ve got bodies,” added Holgorsen. “We’re not going over to Gibby (defensive coordinator Tony Gibson) and asking if he has anybody he thinks can help us out.”

As far as the Mountaineers, who finished 10-3 in 2016, receiving a preseason ranking of No. 22 by the Associated Press on Monday, WVU’s veteran leader responded, “If you want people to talk about you like that (Oklahoma and Oklahoma State), we should have won our bowl last year and have more starters back.”

In other news surrounding the Old Gold and Blue:

*Former WVU head football coach and Hall of Famer Don Nehlen and former Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer have been selected to serve as honorary captains when the two teams meet for the first time since the 2005 campaign

“I have all the respect in the world for Frank Beamer,” Nehlen said. “Not only is he a class man and great friend, he did an unbelievable job at Virginia Tech and took that program to its greatest period of success. When the Mountaineers and Hokies got together to play, it didn’t matter whether either team was 10-0 or 0-10, it defined what a great rivalry was.

“Both teams played hard, physical and never quit the entire game. After I retired, Frank was still coaching, and I always followed the Hokies because of him.”