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WVU’s Dana Holgorsen says extended practice ‘insane’

Kenny Kemp | Gazette-Mail
West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen.

MORGANTOWN — As WVU coach Dana Holgorsen spoke, the clock ticked toward the Mountaineers’ opener against Virginia Tech.

It just seemed to him to be doing so slowly.

“I really wish this were game week,” Holgorsen said. “It seems like we’ve been practicing for a month — and we almost have been.”

Indeed, WVU still had 12 days before its Top 25 showdown as of Tuesday. And it’s an issue Holgorsen wants the NCAA to examine in the offseason.

“By the time we play the first game, all the NFL preseason games will be over,” he said. “They practice for about 10 days and then have preseason games… There are a whole lot of FCS games this weekend. Heck, there are three or four FBS games.”

Five games involving FCS teams will be played this Saturday or Sunday. The FBS season begins on Saturday with a handful of matchups like Stanford and Rice in Australia. The following Thursday, teams like Ohio State and Oklahoma State will be in action. On Friday, Sept. 1, Washington is at Rutgers, among other games.

Finally, the blockbuster Florida State-Alabama game highlights the grand Saturday opener on Sept. 2. WVU and Virginia Tech play the night after in Landover, Maryland.

“There’s only so much you can do practicing against each other,” Holgorsen said. “It seems to me five whole weeks before the first game is insane.

“We will have been in school two-and-a-half weeks prior to the first game. That doesn’t make much sense. I just don’t understand what’s so special about that one [opening] weekend. I think you need three-and-a-half to four weeks before the first game.”

The Mountaineer coach suggested he’s passed along his criticism to the NCAA.

“I’ve expressed some concerns on this prior to the season and, yeah, it’s kind of dragging a little bit,” Holgorsen said. “For three weeks I was happy with our work. We gave the players more off time than ever and I think it was beneficial to our student-athletes. I just think we can get it all done in two weeks, have a game week and go play ball.”

In sum?

“Incredibly sick of practicing against each other,” Holgorsen said.

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With departures (see Jovon Durante of late) have been scholarship openings. On Tuesday, Holgorsen said a couple of those have been filled.

“We put Shane Commodore on the other day,” said the coach. “He’s a fifth-year senior that obviously has played some, but his GPA is really good as well. Alex Marenco as well. He’s a junior college guy that hasn’t really played a lot, but his GPA is out of sight. His work ethic is out of sight.”

Commodore, a 6-foot redshirt senior from Morgantown High, played in 13 games last season as a safety, recording nine tackles. Marenco, a redshirt senior wideout, didn’t see action last season.

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Holgorsen gave an injury report Tuesday, speaking first of Syracuse transfer Corey Winfield, a cornerback expected to possibly start. He recently had finger surgery.

“I don’t think he’s practicing [Tuesday], but he’s fine,” said the coach. “He’s going to be fine. I’m expecting to get him back in a couple of days. The two long-term guys are still the two long-term guys. Marvin [Gross, who had a knee injury] is progressing nicely. He should be fine. Corey is progressing nicely. He should be fine.

“[Linebacker] David Long and [center Jacob] Buccigrossi are the long-term guys that right now are out.”

Long has a meniscus injury, while Buccigrossi is recovering from an ACL injury.

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CAMP NOTES:

n Holgorsen was asked about the possibility of preseason scrimmages against other teams.

“Yeah, that would be cool, but it’s never going to happen,” he replied.

The coach said, “It’s unbelievable how much work you could get done.” He pointed out his punt team and punt return teams can’t go against each other because of crossover.

n Running back Kennedy McKoy was nominated as one of WVU’s best threats for the Virginia Tech game.

“I feel he’s been our best H since last spring,” Holgorsen said. “He’s shown versatility to do things in the backfield much like Wendell [Smallwood] a couple years ago before he was the main guy at running back.”

n With Marcus Simms suspended for the Tech game, West Virginia has moved David Sills outside at receiver. Gary Jennings will see time there as well.

“David started against Arizona State at outside receiver,” Holgorsen said. “Gary played outside receiver all last year. We didn’t move him inside until spring, I guess. Those guys are tough, smart and competitive. It means a lot to them. They practice hard; they play hard.”

n Former WVU coach Don Nehlen made an appearance at Tuesday’s press conference. It was announced he and former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer will serve as honorary captains when the teams renew their rivalry for the Black Diamond Trophy.

n Holgorsen said a depth chart will be released next week.

n And finally…

Holgorsen was asked about linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton — and gave a fun response.

“He comes in and runs our staff meetings once in a while,” said the coach with a smile. “He’s been around here for quite a while and is a really smart kid.”

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