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.”

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  • Aaron

    I know everyone is worried about the QB play but as old sasquatch pointed out, the key to this year will be the offensive line. If the O-line performs well and is able to capitalize with a new, simpler blocking scheme, the running game is effective, then a great QB is not needed.

    For the prolific numbers put up by Graham Harrell, Case Keenum, Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith, the most successful beyond college has been Smith. While I do not believe Mallard or Trickett are as good as the above, I think they will suffice given the system IF the O-line and running game hold up and if receivers catch the ball.

    For me, QB success this year will hinge as much on not turning the ball over as it does yards or completions. If whomever handles the ball well and managed games in a Trent Dilfer manner, WVU's offensive will be OK.

  • ole sasquatch

    Ole Sasquatch would like to take this particular point in time to thank ye all for the feedback at the QB position.
    I think we all know that unless we have a spectacular offensive line this will determine how the fall will go.
    I am going to hold out hope for Howard because I do not think we will have a great offensive line and then everything will hinge on an evasive athletic QB with quick feet and a powerful strong will to win which does not necessarily mean an exceptional passer.

  • jay zoom

    what happens on the field in practice carries over into tall. the blue gold game is next week. there will probably be a few scouts from the big 12 and Alabama there. from what a friend of mine told me that after next week the CHANT will be lets get back to the basics. THANKS OLLIE. (and Charles sounds like you've been in the sauce the depth chart will change drastically after next week) wait and see. (don't worry about the costs PB and J -- OLLIE -- will make it up in the parking lot as well as the tickets

    • Charles

      So there qb genius. When is a kid supposed to learn. Just be born with it. Get outta here!!!! Practice is for learning. Is they are a finished product in the spring. Yea. We are in trouble. As are all teams that peak in spring. Bet you don't know he throws well. Great transfer of weight. Great compact delivery. Had the most snaps vs the first team d. Which nobody produced against. And you take away half of his game without scrambles. Did u happen to notice our first team defense abused or wr's with jams and reroutes. So the picture downfield was clouded for him. Where Logan Moore and Millard did damage against the 2nd and 3rd teams. Kj Myers can turn around Napoleon. But not banks or Worley. Big difference. Spring is for learning. You do know they script the whole thing right?? Every play. Offense and defense. The coaches set down and script every call. Sometimes just to see how people react beyond the qb. Coaches only got on him about missing a check down. Reason being every downfield guy got rerouted and jammed.

  • Charles

    I love watching so many arm chair qb's making assumptions based off of seeing 1 practice!!!!! Last I remember pat white looked horrible every spring. Geno rarely lit it up. It's practice!!! Where kids are not supposed to be perfect. Where coaches script the entire thing for success and failure to see how kids react. I bet no one here noticed that the first team gave up nothing. Yards were produced against the second and third defense. Which skyler faced the first unit the most. We are a long way away from knowing anything. It's spring. What we do know. Stacked at rb. Wr depth looks good. Starting o line will be fine. Dline good but shaky depth. Linebacker is stacked. Defensive backfield is solid.

    • Rick

      It's football not particle physics. To suggest one must be an "expert" to observe a player who has nowhere near the necessary ability to play at a certain level and state he won't succeed is plain silly.

      For example, I can say without hesitation that Clint Trickett will never play in the NFL and obviously I've never seen him practice with NFL caliber players. Clint could be the greatest offensive mind of the 21st century but he still lacks the basic physical attributes to play in the NFL. He might make a good coach but no matter how well he knows the game he lacks the ability

      With Skyler, I actually have the advantage of seeing him practice with Big 12 caliber players and it could not be more obvious he is not capable of playing at this level. He is as far from being Big 12 player in terms of ability as Trickett is from being an NFL player. No expertise needed. The kid can't hit a freaking net half the size of a soccer goal from 20 yards, in a drill with no defense. What more do you need to know?

  • more like feelings of ill

    We are going to be epically bad. The hottest debate will be which if any past team were worse.

  • Big Deal

    This team will be better than last year, but we still lack a standout QB. Logan Moore definitely looked the best out there today. He can throw, run, and appeared to grasp the offense pretty well. He did some big things in high school in Fairmont, made Fairmont State a much better team than they were, and he looked confident as a leader. I wouldn't be surprised to see him make a push for opening day. I've seen all I'd like to of Trickett, Millard, and Howard. Would rather see Moore or Crest get the nod against the Tide.

    • Aaron

      Do we need a standout QB? After all, last years trio threw for 3,400 yards and 16 TD's, completing 56% of their passes. The yardage was 4th most in WV history. If this years QB can not throw the picks, 16 last year and manage games, will that not suffice given the running game and the system?

      • ole sasquatch

        Good point Aaron.

  • P B and J

    I would think they would stay in Morgantown and focus on improving there instead of presenting a statewide goodwill tour which costs both time and money.

    Will these costs be rolled over into next years tickets?

    • Mike

      What is wrong with you. The cost of travel is next to nothing. It is not a "goodwill tour". If your so worried about the cost,then don't spend your money on gas to the game. This game gives more people a chance to see the team practice.What is wrong with that? Maybe you should stay in "Little Detroit and root for your herdies. You have never been a real fan of WVU if you cry over pennies!

      • P B and J

        I do save my money on gas and tickets. I stopped going when Pat White left and ticket costs still grew, but the program declined and has become subpar.

        Why not watch the Herd, winning season, former WVU legend at the helm, and a blowout bowl victory against a Maryland team that shut out WVU by 30 points.

        What's wrong with you Sir

        • Mike

          Just goes to show you are not a real WVU fan. Real fans follow the team year in and year out. Not like you. Who the heck is the WVU legend at the helm of MU? Doc never was or never will be a WVU legend. He cant coach a lick. He can recruit. Look at all the thugs and props he has recruited at MU. If not for props MU could not field a team. I left out the rejects from other teams.

        • WVU Guy

          Continue to be excited when Marshall takes the field against Southern Mississippi, Tulsa, and Ohio. And I'll continue to be excited when WVU takes the field against Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma. We'll see whose heart is pumping a little faster.

        • GoEers

          So you are a Marshall fan that reads and comments on WVU articles. Just goes to show how irrelevant the Herd are.

          They're 0-12 against WVU and never played in a BCS or New Years's day bowl game. Enjoy watching them play all those big time teams thos year lol!!

    • WVeer

      I don't think they would be doing it, except they know they NEED the goodwill. Program is down, fan enthusiasm is down, ticket sales going down. Not a bad move on Ollie's part.

  • Mike

    Watched today from start to finish. I think we'll be better at all positions, except for, unfortunately, the QB position. No upgrade there, and it's highly unlikely the freshman QB recruit will immediately be Big-12 ready. I hope I'm wrong, but it may be another season of "shuffle" the QB.

  • Ducks In A Row

    I thought Buie looked superb. Scored a couple TD's.

    • Mitch

      @Ducks In A Row,
      That was Garrison who scored 2 TDs, not Buie.

      • Ducks In A Row

        You're right. Sorry about that.

  • BR

    Howard looked like I expected, semi-athletic but didn't seem to really know what in the heck he was doing. Maybe better this, but I'm not holding my breath. A lot of his throws had some zip but were off (several low, or behind receiver).
    Millard looked about the same, he completed most of his stuff but he looked very mechanical, slow footed and I can only imagine what a Bama or OU or Texas pass rush would do to him.
    Line looked better - but it was ONLY a practice.
    It was hard to keep track of all the RB's but Shell and Smallwood looked impressive - and D. Smith is a LOAD. We'll be fine in the backfield!!!
    The Dline looked SLOW and kinda weak, but the backers and DB's solid enough.
    I don't know. Unless Trickett has some metamorphosis and is a new man by August we are looking at poor to mediocre QB play again for next year.
    6-6 maybe?

    • Ducks In A Row

      Who got popped, and was down for a while near the end of the scrimmage?

      • BR

        I know Smith took a shot on a goal line dive play but got up and walked off after a couple minutes. The guy is just a bull. Buie did look good on a couple long runs, but they seemed like "gimmies" on busted Dline play and an out of place backer (blitzing maybe?). I just think Buie looks smallish and fast; not quick-twitch, tough and/or elusive.

  • chasmo

    do we have a qb ??

    • JT

      No. We don't have a legit D1 QB on the roster. Millard and Howard are 1-As rejects.

      • GoEers

        Would Clint Trickett be considered a legitimate d1 qb? He started a few games for both Florida st. and WVU.

        • JT

          Trickett? Barely. He'd be okay if he didn't have the physique of Olive Oil.

          A lot of people are saying the kid from Fairmont State is our best QB. Yikes.

  • ole sasquatch

    Fair citizen's of Charleston: Of course what every other part of WV. is waiting for is

    • harold

      No. Skyler doesn't look like he should even be on the same field with the rest of the team. It's not size though he is small, but he literally looked like a boy among men. He's not just physicallyovermatched. He looked scared even with it being limited contact.

    • Mike

      I was there an hour early and right in front of the QB's working out, throwing at a target. Sad to say, but Logan Moore, the transfer from Fairmont State looked the best to me in the passing drills. Passes were more crisp and on target. Skyler didn't impress me at all in scrimmage much. Of course the system is new to him, but he doesn't seem any better than the current crop of QB's we've had since Geno. There were no major programs after him, so what do we expect. Unless Trickett does a Staten-like transformation from one year to the next, we'll struggle this year.

    • Ducks In A Row

      Hey, bigfoot. I respect your opinion since the "war on" comments a while back. I saw the post earlier when you asked us to keep an eye on Howard. Well, I arrived too late to see him. I will say that I wasn't impressed with Millard. Logan was actually looking pretty sharp.

      I asked a few fans what they thought of Howard, and they all said, "he needs work."
      I never could get an answer from anyone on whether he connected on any deep balls.

      • ole sasquatch

        Thanks, Ducks in a Row.

      • Wvu fan

        Skylar Howard was awful. I was there from the very beginning. When the qb's were doing their accuracy drills, he couldn't hit anything. He literally had to slow down and aim at the target to get near it.

        During the scrimmage, he looked like a deer in headlights. He obviously cannot read the defenses nor go through progressions. He was sacked twice while just standing with the ball not having a clue what to do. The last series he was in, it looked like Dana had given up on him and just worked on the running game.

        And, no, he did not connect on any deep balls.

        Sorry for the criticism, but there is no need to sugar coat it. It is what it is, and Howard is horrible.

        • Ducks In A Row

          Appreciate the honesty, no matter how painful to here. Any hope for him by the fall?

          • Wvu fan

            I don't see how he can make that huge of an improvement in that short period. He really is that bad.

          • Ducks In A Row