MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Preseason camp begins Thursday for West Virginia, a four-week segue between summertime 7-on-7s and that daunting 11-on-11 against Alabama.

With bodies reshaped and mindsets remolded by an offseason of conditioning, now comes the chance to show who best can translate their torture time with strength coach Mike Joseph into on-the-field performance.

Noted senior receiver Kevin White, whose physique looks even more superhero-like than he did this time last year: “We like working out with Mike Joseph, but we’re kind of getting tired of doing that stuff. We’re looking forward to getting back to playing football.”

As the football part returns, here are questions to ponder during the dog days of August:

Can incoming quarterback William Crest rise up to No. 2?
Two summer takeaways from Dana Holgorsen regarding West Virginia’s quarterback situation: Clint Trickett will start and Skyler Howard will redshirt. That portends an interesting backup battle between senior Paul Millard and the four-star newcomer Crest.

Conventional wisdom holds that Millard—with 201 pass attempts spanning 18 career games and a demonstrated comprehension of the system—is the undisputed No. 2. Yet Crest’s arm and athleticism could be compensating factors. If the Baltimore product proves to be a quick learner and clearly surpasses Millard from a playmaking perspective, Holgorsen might forego a redshirt season and prep Crest for 2015 with on-field training.

Does Shaquille Riddick become a starter at defensive end or a pass-rush specialist?
The transfer had not been added the roster as of Wednesday—he wasn’t allowed to officially join the team until completing an online course at Gardner-Webb that finalized his undergrad degree. Yet Riddick could be the missing component for a defense that hasn’t bothered quarterbacks much the past two seasons.

“He’s physically as good as anybody else that we’ve got on our team,” Holgorsen said. “He’s 6-foot-6, 260 pounds and he’s quick off the edge. We need guys to come off the edge and sack the quarterback.”

The spring frontrunner at one defensive was fellow senior Dontrill Hyman, a 294-pounder whose hefty sack totals in junior college weren’t replicated during his first season at WVU. The other defensive end spot was being manned by converted nose tackle Christian Brown, who’s down from 304 pounds to 290 after exchanging spots with Kyle Rose at the behest of Tom Bradley.

Riddick figures to earn the nod over either backup (Eric Kinsey and Noble Nwachukwu) and could prove to be an every-down option if he shows the capacity to hold up against the run.

Will Wendell Smallwood face team disciplinary action?
Now that the state of Delaware dropped witness intimidation charges against the running back, will he face some form of internal reprimand from Holgorsen? Might Smallwood’s actions warrant a four-game suspension? Two games? Behind-the-scenes penalties in the form of early morning workouts?

It seems Smallwood made a sage late-game decision—possibly a career-saving decision—to cooperate with Delaware prosecutors who were chasing a murder conviction. Of course, that cooperation occurred after he was arrested and extradited. And there’s still the matter of those ill-advised phone calls he made to a Delaware prison last year, taped conversations that seemed rather incriminating until Smallwood pledged to testify against murder suspect Zakee Lloyd.

If athletes being tardy for meetings or missing classes carries consequences, you sense Holgorsen will have some disciplinary response here—though we might not learn the scope of it until the week of the season opener.

A surprise at linebacker?
The three starters appear set in stone in Nick Kwiatkoski (Mike), Isaiah Bruce (Sam) and Brandon Golson (Will). Yet we hear positive tidings about redshirt freshman Al-Rasheed Benton—whose body certainly shows the perks of a dedicated offseason—and junior college transfer Edward Muldrow, who possesses badly needed pass-rushing skills. Both backups are capable of pushing for playing time.

After all, on a defense that has been so disappointing the past two seasons, few positions can be entirely safe.

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  • Master of One

    "Will WVU win more than 3 games?"

  • Big will

    If history has taught us anything, it that WVU seems to do better when expectations are low. I hope that will be the case this year. We have the 11th toughest schedule in the country, so having a winning season may be hard to accomplish. We have more experience than we had in the last two seasons. I hope this will make a difference. If Trickett can stay healthy maybe we can have a decent year.


    Allan Taylor, thank you , you pose some good questions and bring to light some issues we might not have thought of...

    1. Shaquille Riddick or Eric Kinsey and Noble Nwachukwu) I personally like Eric Kinsey to win this Job if healthy ( He is a tough kid)

    2. Smallwood situation should be in the past and we should not speak of it again ( what is done, is done...lets move on)

    3. ** this might be the most important move for the whole team and our season at hand**

    (The other defensive end spot was being manned by converted nose tackle Christian Brown, who’s down from 304 pounds to 290 after exchanging spots with Kyle Rose at the behest of Tom Bradley.)

    I like all of our LB's ...

    I wonder about our head defensive coordinator and staff... DC has never been a DC before and this staff needs to be counted on more so then ever before on communication with one another without egos... is that possible?

    We have the toughest schedule for any DC much less a new guy? ( am I the only one with these thoughts?

    Let's GOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Mounatineeeeers!!!!!!

  • any major dude

    I just don't see DH imposing any penalty whatsoever on Smallwood. I just don't see it happening.

    • Matt

      No reason to punish him.

      Lace 'em up

    • Billy

      I would guess that you are spot on. Still Allan's questions needed to be asked for more than just one reason. It is a decision that would need to be made with The athletic directors approval.

  • Billy

    Good questions on Smallwood Allan. He for sure cut a deal to testify. The athorities had enough evidence to obtain a warrant and extradite him to another state. I would think your questions are more than reasonable. Remember you can't please all the people all the time. it is what is is and I appreciate your efforts.

    • YesImAnAttorney

      Probable cause, huh? Any prosecutor in the land can get probable cause and you indict an orange. It's a joke. And as for extradition, all they have to prove is that he's the same WS that is named in the criminal complaint. That is all. Probable cause has NOTHING to do with whether he's extradited or not. It's strictly an identity issue.

      Simply put, Smallwood was used. He was a pawn in their chess game and he was expendable. Sad but true.

      Leave the young man alone.

      • Dave

        Allan Taylor, make sure you read what the Attorney said.

  • whatamoroon

    You guys need to cut Alan some slack. It's been a long off season for him and he's been doing some heavy lifting. Tomorrow will start his two a days and I'm sure he'll be back up to expected form by the Alabama opener.

    • Aaron

      After listening to him on metro news with Hoppy he's no Dave Hickman.

      Heck, he's not even a Chuck Landon and that's with the slack cut.

  • TruthTeller

    Enough of the push for Crest!! Trickett and Millard will be the first and second string QB's get over it. They know the offense. Crest will not be playing this year. It takes time to learn
    Dana's offense. Lets give the home grown man Trickett the support he deserves.


    • Guardian

      Ahem!! I believe Dana said once he could install his offense in three days. Best do your homework before you declare the "truth".

  • The bookman

    Who cares about the Smallwood story? If he stubs his toe in Morgantown at some point, then give some historical background, but Mr Taylor, really, let the kid settle back in. If he's bad news, he'll show it. If it was good enough for the Delaware authorities, it should be good enough for the WVU beat writer.

    I usually like your balanced reporting, but this one has really not been your usual work. Just an opinion from a frequent reader of your work.

  • Sick'em

    We mountaineer fans have no problems with homosexuals. Welcome to the board William. We will treat u like a sister.

  • The flying dutchman

    The eve of this of the year.
    By the way William,god called and he thinks you suck as well.

  • In da stickes

    Get through the pre season healthy, add some wrinkles to confuse a young Bama defense and pull a "1982 Oklahoma" surprise on a skeptical nation.

  • Baldeagle

    Welcome back "william" I've missed your input.

  • william

    Gotta love it -
    Dana "The Man in Black" Holgerson
    with a Red Bull.

  • Mountainman

    ......opinions vary on that, spiralninja.

  • spiralninja

    Good stuff. Keep it coming.