MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Throughout a month of intersquad scrimmages, the West Virginia defense enjoyed most of the chest-thumping moments as the offense lurched and stammered.

But during Saturday’s sun-splashed Gold-Blue game, the offense took some revenge, delivering a turnover-free 95 snaps and closing the spring with a 37-27 win.

Paul Millard, the likeliest challenger to injured front-runner Clint Trickett in the quarterback race, threw two touchdowns and walk-on Logan Moore directed three scoring drives in the No. 2 role. Third-string newcomer Skyler Howard produced his sharpest scrimmage by completing 9-of-13 passes, part of the trio’s combined 33-of-53 passing day for 308 yards and three scores.

“I would say the offense won overall because they scored a lot more than we expected them to,” admitted linebacker Isaiah Bruce. “The defense didn’t get any turnovers at all today, and that’s a downfall for us.”

Even with Trickett still recovering from shoulder surgery, head coach Dana Holgorsen turned loose the defense and made the atypical decision of subjecting his healthy quarterbacks to full-contact. With the defense no longer limited to “touch” sacks, the quarterbacks seemed to operate better in live-game situations.

“I thought it was fun—it was fun watching those guys get hit,” Holgorsen said. “They weren’t making the progress we wanted, so about six practices ago, we let them get hit and the sense of urgency picked up.”

Millard connected on touchdowns of 6 yards to Kevin White and 1 yard to Elijah Wellman and finished 14-of-19 for 129 yards.

Moore, a transfer from Division II Fairmont State, was presumably an afterthought in the quarterback race. Yet he completed 10-of-21 for 109 yards and had a potential scoring pass dropped. He also ran three times for 35 yards— highlighted by a 28-yard scramble—and said coaches consider him a legit contender.

“With the work I’ve put in and what I’ve proven I can do, they have to give me a shot,” Moore said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Though Dreamius Smith sat out the game with a tender shoulder—an injury running backs coach JaJuan Seider deemed non-serious—West Virginia’s ground game still averaged 4.2 yards per carry. Dustin Garrison had 47 yards on 10 carries, while Wendell Smallwood ran 10 times for 45 yards. Pitt transfer Rushel Shell gained 37 yards on eight carries.

The offense piled up 483 yards total, averaging 5.1 per play. It scored on seven of 15 possessions.

“Today was a success,” said Garrison, building upon his impressive performance in last Saturday’s scrimmage in Charleston. The offense made a lot of plays.”

Kevin White paced the receivers with five catches for 42 yards, while Jordan Thompson made four receptions for 57. Daikiel Shorts added four for 36 yards—one of those a 6-yard Jet sweep from Howard that went for a score—and KJ Myers caught four for 32 yards.

Holgorsen would have liked more connections with Mario Alford, who ripped off a 99-yard return on the opening kickoff but was otherwise quieted to two catches for 12 yards.

“(Alford) probably didn’t make as many plays at receiver as I would have liked,” Hogorsen said. “We have to get Mario the ball quite a bit more.”

Then again, Holgorsen said Alford was blanketed by sophomore cornerback Daryl Worley, who continues to “make play after play after play.”

“Daryl Worley has had a phenomenal spring—a phenomenal spring,” Holgorsen said. “Mario’s confidence is a little down right now because he has had to go against him so much.”

The defense was led by Justin Arndt’s seven tackles, while Nick Kwiatkoski made five stops before being spotted on the bench with ice on his neck and shoulder. Backup safety Dayron Wilson also registered five tackles, as did Rickey Rumph and Bruce.

The defense’s sacks came from nickel back K.J. Dillon and punter-turned-linebacker Houstin Syvertson, while Darien Howard and Edward Muldrow split a sack.

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  • scott

    Lets gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo mountaineers!!!!!!!!!!

  • MountieFan16

    Gents (and Ladies),

    Any team that going to have a decent season must have solid depth. Look at last year, particularly on defense, we lost a lot of starters and replaced them with Freshmen. Most of our skilled player on Offense, except for Charles Simms and our QBs, were new to the program. Our QB situation never got settled last year. Trickett and Childers played hurt for most of the season and Paul made too many errors by playing outside his skill set. Mark my words, granted that we get the right guy in as the Starting QB, we will have a decent team this year and a decent record (more wins than losses). We will be competitive in the Big12. And we may just give the Good Ole Boys from Alabama a run for their money. (Anyone remember OU or Georgia in our games bowls with them?)

  • ole sasquatch

    Ole Sasquatch finally got to see the QBs' yesterday in action. I can state right now that all that critical talk about Skyler Howard was unwarranted. He was right in there competing with the other two. Logan Moore was a surprise to me and again Millard is adequate if the offensive line can be trusted. Do not count on that. I would say all 3 QBs' are in the running as of right now.
    I saw nothing great the whole game. Even the touchdown return on the kick-off looked like some poor coverage. No big plays in the regular offense and that is what we are missing. Big number 42 in for the blue team looked like he had some muscle carrying the ball. Shell looked strong and put on one good move. Garrison does have good field presence. None of the receivers has great hands.
    Something has to impress the Ole Sasquatch before he feels comfortable vs. Alabama. I did not see it - yet. And this year the Coaches has to do a better job about getting these kids fired - up. I am so tired of the objective talk before and after the game as if they were a 3rd. party.
    I want to see a little fire in their eyes. We live on Spirit in these hills!

  • Randy

    I'm sorry, the problem isn't depth. In order to have a depth problem one must first have solid talented starters or you can't look at the depth.

    Still, we would do alright if we #1 had a decent secondary. #2 a strong def line for a change. #3 the off line could give the QB the time it needs to complete a good pass and then above all, #4 solid QB play.

    Depth, lol, our problems are shallow.

  • Randy

    I don't know. The offense finally put in a solid effort and won the day. I remember that being the way it was last year and we only won 4 games.

    Sounds like it's going to be another long disappointing season to me.

  • Alex

    Looks like we have a better team than we have had in the last 3 years... Got a soft spot at QB, but that can get better over the summer... Not going to say that Crest will be a starter this year but he will put pressure on everyone else and that causes improvement when the fall practice session starts, he will be in Morgantown when high school is over and he can get used to some players who are there for the summer and get the feel of the campus and get comfortable and study the playbook, you will be surprised what can happen.... I like this kid he is going to be a wonderful excellent quarterback.... One other thing our problem has been DEPTH, and without it you just cannot play a 60 minute football game without it it's not possible to win games without DEPTH. It is the case here in Morgantown it is taking us a good 3--4 years to have what it takes to play in the Big 12... You have to understand we are not going to go undefeated like a lot of you talking and act on here....This program was left without DEPTH when Holgorsen took over..

  • jay zoom

    remember this is spring practice. their just out there for show, all in all from what I seen its wait until next year again THANKS OLLIE 4 -- 8 2014.

  • Tim C

    All 3 QB's ripped up the defense. I'm wondering how much they have improved? I think we may be in for another down year defensively. Hopefully our offense can be effective this year. The only way a defense can stop the spread offenses is to get to the QB, period. Pass rush looks weak. Cornerbacks playing too far off the receivers. They are going to have to bump the receivers to disrupt the timing against the high powered offenses in the B12. Have we not learned anything? We are better than last year, but not nearly enough improvement to make a huge difference in B12 play. We still have a long way to go. Hopefully in the fall the schemes get refined to the point we are competitive.

  • Wenkev

    You're tired.

  • Bill Tanzey

    Having seen the scrimmage in Chraleston last week, and witnessing the spring game on WOWK today, this Mountaineer team is far better than last year's squad. Last year we returned 46 players with experience; this year 81. Last year's offense was mistake prone, and the defense was lean. Not so now, witness today's zero fumbles and interceptions and the number of defenders who were shuffled in today. If we win two of our first four games we will be a bowl team this year.

  • j

    I hate the pessimism from all of you. You obviously know nothing about football. WVU is not set back a decade. Take the team last year and put them back in the former Big East and they are a 9-3, 10-2 football team. The Big 12 is a different world, and while Bill Stewart was a good man he was an awful recruiter. He attracted good talent, Geno, Tavon, Stedman etc, but in major college football you need depth. WVU hasn't had any of that and its taking a while to build. Their offensive line is finally developing into what Holgerson wants, the receiver depth is good and the defense is finally catching up. Stop being ignorant or go root for Marshall

    • yawn

      Blah blah blah depth. Blah blah blah youth. Blah blah blank Big 12. Blah blah blah inexperienced.

      Its tired.

    • JT

      Clint Trickett. Paul Millard. Skyler Howard. Logan Moore.

      These are our QB's. That would be a hell of a depth chart for Shepherd or Glenville St.

      • wvman75

        Did you play college ball? At any level?

        • Big DH

          I Cant wait to see the worst QBs mountaineer field has ever seen this year

  • JT

    They are going to suck. Truth hurts. Holgorsen has set this program back a decade.

    • Tyrone

      It is not this head coach who has set back the program. You have no clue .Bill Stewart did this our head coach is taking care of it . Do you even know anything at all. Look at the recruits that have verbalized early to the program and where the class is ranked. You are not a fan you are a hater.

    • Wvuball

      Now is this on top of the decade Stew set us back?

      • wvman75

        Unless we totally implode, Holgy's our coach.

  • Hop'sHip

    We had a punter-turned-linebacker who tied for the lead in defensive sacks? That is hardly ever a good sign.

  • Mike

    I hope we're getting better. Alabama is waiting for us.

    • JT

      The Alabama game will be a massacre. We don't have one starter that would crack their two deep.

      • Big DH

        U can say goodbye to Dana
        its gonna be ugly

  • P B and J

    Anyone but Millard

    • wvman75

      I disagree. Millard is a good QB. You only get better with time.

      • jeepster

        I agree with you ,wvman75

        • In da stickes

          You also exhaust your eligibility with time.