MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s spring football schedule is taking on a fan-friendly, barnstorming flare, with head coach Dana Holgorsen announcing plans to stage three open practices, including two at off-campus locations.
The following Saturday practices will be open to fans (weather permitting):
— March 22 at Wheeling
— March 29 in Morgantown
— April 5 at Charleston
Those lead up to the April 12 spring game in Morgantown, which will be open to fans as usual.
“We want all of Mountaineer Nation to be able to come, to see what we’re putting out there, to see what the product is,” Holgorsen said. “I think everybody’s going to be pleasantly surprised at what the product’s going to be.”
With a three-year record of 21-17, Holgorsen is feeling the heat to rectify the program after last season’s 4-8 finish. Dating back to 2012 the Mountaineers have dropped 14 of their last 20 games, leading WVU athletics director Oliver Luck to issue an offseason vote-of-confidence for Holgorsen that came with the caveat, “We simply must get better.”
TRICKETT ON THE MEND
One player fans won’t be seeing this spring is senior quarterback Clint Trickett, who’s recovering from shoulder surgery and doesn’t project to be cleared until summer workouts.
“He will be throwing gradually over the course of spring, but will not be participating in spring (practices),” Holgorsen said.
“He’s participating in meetings, he’s actively learning and trying to get a little ahead of the curve knowledge-wise from where he was in the fall.”
Recall that Holgorsen grew frustrated last season by Trickett’s inability to click the offense into hurry-up mode, a problem the coach and transfer chalked up to communication foibles.
Trickett underwent arthroscopic surgery Jan. 14 on his right shoulder’s AC joint (an injury believed to have been suffered way back on Sept. 28 during an upset win over Oklahoma State). His most optimistic recovery timetable was mid-March, which would have allowed Trickett to take practice reps once the team returned from spring break.
As it stands now, he’ll have to settle for returning in time for 7-on-7 summer sessions.
“When he comes back in summer, he’ll be 100-percent cleared,” Holgorsen said.
Trickett remains the frontrunner to win the starting job next fall, but a heavy dose of spring reps could boost the profile of sophomore junior college transfer Skyler Howard. And, of course, there’s fellow senior Paul Millard, who started three games last season, and Fairmont State transfer Logan Moore, who shifted back to quarterback after working last season at receiver.
WHO’S OUT, WHO’S BACK
Junior linebackers Wes Tonkery (shoulder) and Jared Barber (knee) will sit out spring practice but should be cleared for summer workouts, Holgorsen said. In addition, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tyler Tezeno (knee) could return near the end of spring practice.
Among the players cleared for spring drills: Redshirt freshman safety Malik Greaves (hip), junior linebacker Shaq Pettway (knee), junior running back Dustin Garrison (hamstring), sophomore nose tackle Christian Brown (foot) and sophomore cornerback Nana Kyeremeh (shoulder).
Another key player cleared to return is junior safety K.J. Dillon, whose season ended when he was hospitalized with dehydration after the Nov. 8 Texas game. Holgorsen said Dillon has increased his weight from 179 pounds at the time of his illness to a healthy 208.
GIBSON PROMOTION OFFICIAL
In addressing the previously-reported promotion of Tony Gibson to defensive coordinator (created by Keith Patterson’s departure for Arizona State), Holgorsen emphasized the local ties at play. A Boone County native, a Glenville State graduate and, most famously, a former Rich Rodriguez assistant at WVU, Gibson has heartily preached the home-state narrative since returning last season to WVU.
“Nobody cares more about the Mountaineers, nobody cares more about the state of West Virginia and West Virginia University than Tony does,” Holgorsen said.
“When I announced it to the team the other day, I think he got a standing ovation by the kids, so you can tell what kind of respect they have for him.”
Holgorsen confirmed some breaking news later Friday, by announcing that he and Gibson were bringing aboard former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.