CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On a spring Saturday replete with tailgating, kettle corn and autographs, West Virginia’s football team and several thousand fans enjoyed some trappings of fall.
The Mountaineers’ appearance at Laidley Field featured crunching hits, a few downfield connections and enough teaching moments to remind everyone that spring drills are just 10 practices old. This was the third open practice of the spring—following a trip to Wheeling and a scrimmage in Morgantown—and drew by far the largest crowd.
“It simulates a bit like a road game,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “We have to get on the bus, travel and keep our minds clear on the task at hand. We have to be able to ignore things and play ball. It’s really been good.
“Our guys get excited about being able to wake up and get in a spring practice, and play in front of a bunch of people. It kind of gets them cranked up.”
With these off-campus trips generated the kind of enthusiasm sometimes absent from spring ball, Holgorsen said players also are reminded about their importance to the state.
“I think they see it a little bit,” he said. “We weren’t really able to interact with anyone in Wheeling (under NCAA rules), because it was a high school stadium. With this being the University of Charleston, we can advertise, we can do an autograph session. So I think the majority of our guys understand what this means to the people of the state of West Virginia and how much excitement there is surrounding what they’ve done, and how important that is to everybody.”
Next weekend brings the West Virginia spring game, which will be the public’s last chance to see the Mountaineers before their Aug. 30 showdown against Alabama in the Georgia Dome.
“I am impressed with the guys’ energy,” Holgorsen said. “They have been excited about practicing and it seems like they are having a good time and trying to push their teammates to get better.
“We’ve made that very well-known and we’re working hard to rectify a 4-8 season, that’s for sure.”