MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After four non-contact practices, the pads finally were popping Monday afternoon as West Virginia engaged in the always spirited Oklahoma drills.
The drill pits players in a man-on-man tough-guy scenario: One blocker going head-up against a defender as a ballcarrier tries to scoot through the narrow running lane.
“That good old Oklahoma drill that everybody likes to watch,” said coach Dana Holgorsen. “The kids get fired up about it being a live-contact drill.”
As do the coaches.
New defensive coordinator Tony Gibson was slapping the helmets after linebackers plugged the hole. Lonnie Galloway whoofed right along with his receivers as they scrapped against defensive backs. Holgorsen chirped in too, amping up the energy on the warmest day of preseason camp so far.
The only real dustup involved safety Jarrod Harper and receiver Devonte Mathis, who wrestled momentarily into the group of onlooking players. Safeties coach Joe DeForest laughed heartily as he separated the two.
Two injuries resulted from the Oklahoma drills. Second-string offensive lineman Stone Underwood injured his right shoulder and spent the scrimmage portion sporting a strapped-up ice pack. Third-string nose tackle Brandon Jackson was limping and grabbing his right hamstring.
While most of the quarterbacks engaged in passing drills during the special-teams period, William Crest was once again fielding punts. That’s the second time the four-star quarterback has done so, joining Mario Alford and Jordan Thompson.
As the media’s half-hour viewing session ended, the team began a controlled scrimmage.
“You get about 12 opportunities to tackle in three and a half weeks, which is about what we did last year,” Holgorsen said. “Because we have a lot more bodies (than last year) as opposed to a 30-play live period, it may be a 50-play live period.
“This camp is designed to keep these guys healthy, and we’ll have a lot of recovery time. We’re not having to put a guy out there and get 50 reps out of him, per day, in a live situation. The goal is to get out of camp with enough reps to be able to be in game shape, but to also be healthy and ready to play that first game.”