MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen insists that his second August camp as West Virginia's head coach won't be much different than his first. And, truth be told, there's not much reason to change things.
Yes, he was pretty much thrown into the fire a year ago, elevated to his current position less than two months before the start of camp. But that was enough time to put things in order and get organized. And it wasn't as if Holgorsen was a complete novice.
"My two years at Houston and the one year at Oklahoma State I was heavily involved in how we practiced and how we did camp,'' Holgorsen said. "So I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do. We haven't changed a whole lot from last year to this year.''
When the Mountaineers opened camp Thursday, though, there was one very noticeable difference from a year ago. Holgorsen wasn't throwing passes. Neither were quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital or offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.
And that's a good thing.
"Yeah,'' Dawson said. "That was pretty embarrassing, wasn't it?''
Last year, those coaches were throwing passes during practice for a very good reason. There weren't enough warm bodies among the players to do so. But this year Holgorsen has rectified the problem by bringing five quarterbacks to camp.
Besides senior preseason Big 12 player of the year Geno Smith and his backups, sophomore Paul Millard and freshman Ford Childress, Holgorsen has two walk-on quarterbacks, including Fairmont State's starter the last two years.
Last year, Smith and Millard were the only QBs in camp when it started, and over the course of the next few weeks Holgorsen scrambled to find anyone who could throw. He eventually got some walk-on help at the position, but until then he and his coaches had to step in so that Smith and Millard weren't throwing 500 passes a day.
"We've got five arms, which helps,'' Holgorsen said after putting his team through a 21/2-hour workout in shorts. "It alleviates some of the throwing that Geno and Paul do.
"Long term it should really help us. We can get better from a drill standpoint and not wear out Geno's arm and Paul's arm.''
In addition to the three scholarship quarterbacks, the others in camp are transfer Logan Moore and freshman Travis Maraney.
Moore, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior, asked for and received his release from his scholarship at Fairmont State in June. He started both years he was there, yet left to walk on at WVU.
"He thinks he can play here. He wouldn't have transferred here to quit playing football,'' Holgorsen said. "I don't know anything about him yet, though. Today's the first day I saw him [practice].''
Moore spent two seasons at Fairmont State and passed for 3,546 yards and 31 touchdowns, both marks among the top four in school history. But he shared time at the position in spring drills with junior college transfer Bobby Vega.
The former Fairmont Senior standout was the freshman of the year in the West Virginia Conference in 2010 and honorable mention All-WVC last year.
"When he called and wanted to talk to Jake about coming up here, Jake asked why,'' Holgorsen said. "He said he thought he could play here, so time will tell.''
The other walk-on, Maraney, was University High's quarterback for three years.
BRIEFLY: Apparently the punting competition will be a three-way deal. In addition to returning punters Corey Smith and Mike Molinari, freshman kicker Josh Lambert got his turns in drills. All had some booming kicks, but Smith was probably the most consistent. ... The start-of-camp depth chart doesn't hold many surprises, but there is one spot where a true freshman is listed first. Karl Joseph, the 5-10, 196-pounder from Orlando, Fla., who enrolled in January and went through spring drills, is listed No. 1 at free safety ahead of Travis Bell. ... A few injured players who did not go through or finish spring drills also are listed No. 1 at their positions, including Terence Garvin at star, Jewone Snow at buck and Pat Miller at cornerback. And Ryan Nehlen is again listed ahead of Ivan McCartney at wide receiver. ... The team will practice again today in shorts, then put pads on for the first time Saturday and take Sunday off. ... Holgorsen on his general thoughts of the first day: "It's not padded, so it's not real football. But we were able to get out there.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.