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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  • Ralph ..R.T.R fan

    Well at 8:30 pm the 30th of August the the whooping behind the old woodshed begins. Actually the Georgia Dome that is when Alabama will begin the beat down of W.V.U. Get ready because Alabama is coming to play . I hope the Mountaineers show up and at least make it a game . Good Luck because you will need it .

    • Oh Did Ya?

      Worst fans in football....rtr. Any of your fans sucker punched anyone recently? Good to know you guys are paying attention - game time is 3:30

  • DH Fan

    Any updates anyone????

  • DH Fan

    Wished I be smart like cutty77, he know more than all body put together. I hope him get coaching job at WV.

  • Chris

    Rick Bulger... I mean Trickett, is going to Rock the M Nation THIS YEAR. Millard will impress as backup.

  • DH Fan

    Any updates now? It's on like donkey kong, the ole flying WV, the ole blue and gold, the ole Mountianeers, our states team is on the field.

  • any major dude

    Charles. What if Trickett or Millard are both hurt early or are ineffective? Call up Howard because he's a JUCO transfer? I don't disagree. Just wondering if this is your thought about it. I do not see Crest as anything other than a redshirt either, and even if he's brought up under dire circumstances, I don't see him starting.

  • LAD

    Allan, I haven't quite figured out MetroNews' angle on this just yet. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I haven't heard Holgy say one word other than the prepared statement by the University regarding Smallwood's position on the team, yet you CONTINUE to bring it up in your articles. This is AT LEAST the third time I've seen it written and I'm befuddled trying to figure out why. Are you pressing for a suspension? Were you a part of the case? Do you have full knowledge of the evidence and are prepared to make a decision that could so strongly impact a young man's life? All I'm saying is I don't think it's any one of our business to say he should or shouldn't be suspended because we simply do not have all the facts.

    I am curious though, are you supposed to REPORT the news or GENERATE it? In recent articles, it seems to me to have been the latter.

  • any major dude

    If DH drinks Red Bull but wins alot, who cares what he wears or drinks? The problem is that he does not win, leaving himself open to critics. The red bull thing doesn't bother me too much but the Raiders thing does; he's supposed to represent the school and at least appear to have some kind of affiliation with the institution and represent himself as a leader in that institution.

    • SCOTT

      see the little letters on the shirt...I believe they are a W and V...that stands for West and Virginia...the institution he is affiliated you feel the players arent representing the institution when they wear white helmets?

      come on William....

      • Harpers Ferry

        Actually, the WV stands for West Virginia, not West and Virginia.

  • Rich

    I was really hoping Crest would get to redshirt. Trickett is an injury waiting to happen and we seen what Millard can do, not much. Was hoping Howard could fill in when Trickett got hurt and Millard was ineffective. Riddick has to step up quickly we need him.

  • Jim slade

    "Cooperating" = testimony for the state

  • Neil Montgomery

    I fail to see any remote possibility of a prosecutor or judge giving up on any case of witness intimidation that is a "done deal". They do not want even an appearance of successful intimidation in their system. IMO, if they had a case they would pursue it. They have no case, and do not want to waste the time of the system. Appears he was willing to work within(aide) the system. Therefore the case was discontinued.

    WVU should do the same without proof that he actually did attempt to intimidate the witness.

  • John Gallagher

    Does Holgersen really have to have a Red Bull in hand while he talks to team on first day of practice (or ever, really during practice)?

    • paul

      John Gallagher...that looks like a file photo from last year or before. DH was wearing a white visor and blue/gold shirt today at practice in the stadium. Hey Metronews--- file photo?.

    • Chris

      Would the perception be better by those kids if he were walking around with a mug of hot coffee on a sweltering summer afternoon? Both have the same amount of caffeine...perhaps a Mountain Dew with all it's caffeine...i think Red Bull is the best choice here! Me...I'd be havin a Yoo Hoo.

    • SCOTT

      What if it were a Diet Coke...would that make you people feel Red Bull too hard for goodness...thats just

    • WVRocker

      I was thinking the same thing. Really a Red Bull. To me it says the coach is not focused and serious. I know the loyal Holgy fans think he can do no wrong, including losing the majority of his games,
      Since when have Mountaineer fans been so patient? I don't really want to hear that we are in a tougher conference, we lost to Iowa St and Kansas and our conference champ got whipped bad by a AAC team.

    • squad

      yes he does if he is thirsty and yes, this is 2014 after all. even in West Virginia.

  • Charles

    For the dreamers and pretend football fans. True freshman do not start at qb in major college football and have success. Period! After a redshirt year possibly. True freshman. Never! Pat white, redshirt, Winston, redshirt, manzel, once again redshirt. Crest will not see the field.

    • cutty77

      In this case Crest is better that Trickett right now. I noticed you pick to Heisman QBs. What a Brain Surgeon you are. Marshall's QB was a True Freshmen. These kids coming into today can play alot better than before. Dana has no choice,i don't care how much Everybody trys to build Trickett up. It ain't there.

      • Chris

        Tricket will remind us all of Mark Bulger this year...Y'all wait and see.

  • load of bull

    nutty you have no way of knowing what trickett will do this year so quit acting like you are some kind of know it all great coach or recruiter, go back to huntington and worry about your green colored team

    • cutty77

      WVU is lucky not to be playing Marshall this year or last year. Maybe you guys should start a Heisman campain for Clint Trickett.

  • FNP

    Trickett will be much much better this year. He's got a full year under his belt and that means alot in this system. For all of you who think Crest will play this year are pure crazy. He's getting redshirt and he knows it already. He is the future of this program and they arent going to burn a year of eligible when they have Millard to back up Trickett. Millard threw some good stuff at times last year and we have to remember that he hadnt thrown to those receivers before either.

    • Jim

      Glad I didn't have to write all of the correct stuff when you already did. Crest will probably get the red shirt BUT I'll add to your comments: He'll get some reps under his belt just in case CT gets dinged up and Millard has to take over while CT heals. Skyler is probably the better option, as Millard's backup, but DH will use the QB who has the best grasp on his system. SH is working hard learning the system. I'm glad he is wise enough to get off social media so he can concentrate.

    • cutty77

      I don't care if Trickett has 5 years under his belt. Alot of people don't seem to understand. Trickett is a Great Kid,and Comes From a Great Family.He just can't play QB in D-1 Football. 165lb QB won't and can't hold up in The Big 12.

      • LAD

        I don't understand how you can even think that. Trickett was absolutely pummeled last year and came back for more every time. Whether wincing or letting his arm dangle like a loose string, he stood back up and barked out the cadence bone-jarring hit after bone-jarring hit. He's the toughest guy on the team, 165 lbs or not, IMO.

        • cutty77

          This ain't win won for The Gipper Movie. Being Tough gets you Zero TD's.

          • FNP

            I just wish you understood football a little more.