MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Last week at the Big 12's preseason football media days, Dana Holgorsen said that choosing the best quarterback for his West Virginia football team would be a process that could take anywhere from a day to 21/2 weeks.Well, a day has passed.And no, not yet."Not today,'' Holgorsen said Thursday.
Yes, the third-year head coach saw some things he liked about his football team, which held its first practice Thursday afternoon. He lauded its energy level and its attitude, although to expect anything less on the first day would be silly."They were excited and all that, blah, blah, blah,'' he said.He liked his team's conditioning, referring to conditioning as "phenomenal.''He even liked watching last year's much-maligned defense take its first steps, so much so that later he bristled at a questioner who mentioned 2012."We're not going to talk about last year's defense,'' he said. "Everyone knows what it was.''
But the quarterback situation? Well, that's simply going to take some time, he said. After just one day of watching holdovers Paul Millard and Ford Childress and Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, there's really not much to see."They have the ability to run the offense and throw the ball, but we're not moving the ball. We're just running plays,'' Holgorsen said. "No matter if it's a good play or a bad play, we're just moving on to the next one."We'll do three days where there's no consequences for any of the actions, whether it's a good play or a bad play. We're just running plays right now to get all the offense installed. Then we'll get into more situational stuff, where they've got to understand what the situation is and get us in better plays."That's when I'll start judging whether they can be the guy or not.''Holgorsen, of course, has seen plenty of Millard and Childress - the former as Geno Smith's backup the last two seasons and the latter in a full redshirt year of practice. Trickett he'd not seen until Thursday except on film.
"He's good. He's seasoned. He doesn't get nervous,'' Holgorsen said of the 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior transfer. "You can tell that he's got some game experience, but right now he's got the look where he looks at me on the sideline and just stares through me because it's not automatic, which is to be expected.
"But he threw the ball good. For a guy who it's his very first practice here, I thought he did good. I'm not judging specific throws or checks or anything like that. I'm just watching them operate - getting signals and communicating them to the O-line and then executing the play so that it resembles football. And I thought he did all right there.''So what is it that Holgorsen will ultimately look for in Trickett and the others? Presence. He said he saw that from all three on Thursday."You throw a guy in there that's taking snaps in our offense for the first time, and if there's hesitation and panic and nervousness and lack of communication and all that stuff, then we've got a little bit of an issue,'' Holgorsen said of Trickett. "I knew he would handle that well. It's not something that I'm concerned with with him."Ford and Paul 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.''BrieflyThe only two academic casualties from the recruiting class appear to be Ohio linebacker Darrien Howard and Florida safety Isaac McDonald, neither of whom practiced Thursday. But Holgorsen said that both are still going through NCAA clearinghouse issues and neither has been ruled out.
Junior college linebacker D'Vante Henry was also missing, but Holgorsen said that was because of personal issues. With 102 players in camp, there is room for all three within the 105-player NCAA limit.One of the most highly regarded recruits, wide receiver Shelton Gibson, was in a red no-practice jersey after what Holgorsen referred to as a tweaked knee. Offensive lineman Adam Pankey, who had offseason knee surgery, was the only other player in red.The starting cornerbacks on the preseason depth chart are Brodrick Jenkins and Nana Kyeremeh. But in the only drill in which the defense lined up during the 30-minute open period of practice, the corners were Jenkins and Travis Bell.Ivan McCartney is back, but he has apparently forfeited his No. 5 jersey and was given No. 85. Gibson has inherited Tavon Austin's No. 1There are three punters in camp, but just one kicker, Josh Lambert. The punters are junior college transfer Nick O'Toole, Michael Molinari and freshman Houston Syvertson from Shady Spring.
Holgorsen said there was no doubt that Lambert would be the team's kicker, thus there was no need to bring anyone else in and take up a spot on the 105-man roster. When the roster is expanded once classes begin, someone else might compete for the kickoff specialist's job.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.