MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s the first day of fall classes at West Virginia, which typically means a wasted day of football practice.
“In my experience, that first day of class and with practice that afternoon, has always been bad,” said Mountaineers receivers coach Lonnie Galloway. “With everybody moving on campus, and boys being boys, you probably lose them for a day before you can rein them back in.”
But head coach Dana Holgorsen suggested now is not the time to squander a practice, not when coaches are assembling the depth chart.
“The first thing is developing a two-deep, which we’re pretty close to,” Holgorsen said. “Once you develop a two-deep, then you can let those guys battle it out for another week before you name starters.”
GARRISON NOT GIVING IN
With Houston transfer Charles Sims pegged as the Big 12’s preseason newcomer of the year and junior college signee Dreamius Smith drawing almost equal attention, Dustin Garrison became a forgotten man during preseason camp.
But that doesn’t scare the junior, who’s fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered in December 2011.
“I think it’s that same mindset I had as a freshman—once I get my chance, make the most of it,” he said.
Garrison led WVU in rushing as a rookie with 742 yards, appearing in all 12 regular-season games before injuring his knee during practices preceding the Orange Bowl.
A vigorous rehab saw him ready to return for Week 3 of the 2012 season, though he didn’t show quite the same cutting ability. In netting 207 rushing yards as a backup, Garrison’s yards-per-carry dipped to 4.5, a yard less than his freshman output.
Now he’s part of a five-back rotation that includes junior Andrew Buie and Wendell Smallwood, and despite the depth, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson predicted it was unlikely any of them would redshirt.
“All that talent,” Garrison said, “means you’ve just got to make the most you an with the amount of plays you have.”
True freshman Shelton Gibson stands among the most heralded WVU wide receiver signees of the past decade, one of only three who made Rivals’ top-150 national recruits.
So what’s the early verdict after two-plus weeks of preseason camp?
“Still raw,” Galloway said. “Still learning and still trying to figure out where to go and how to get there.”
Gibson missed the team’s first two practices with a minor knee injury he suffered during summer drills, and according to Galloway, “he’s still trying to catch up.”
That could put Gibson on the cutline for a redshirt season, something the coaches were planning to discuss Sunday and Monday when they projected newcomers’ roles.
“The last thing you want to do is play a kid four or five plays in this game and four or five plays in another game down the road, and then you’ve wasted a whole year,” Galloway said.