MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Even after West Virginia’s first-team defense refused to yield a touchdown during Saturday’s game-like scrimmage, defensive coordinator Tony Gibson called poor tackling “my biggest fear.”

His worries stemmed from a live-situation drill Friday in which Gibson said the defense missed 22 tackles.

“It’s being out of control,” he said. “The biggest mistake we saw (Friday) on film were guys with their head down, running full-speed, and reaching—and that’s not how we teach tackling. You’ve got to see what you hit and keep your eyes up.

“We really honed in on it (Saturday) morning and I thought the kids responded well. I think we only had two or three missed tackles in the whole scrimmage today.”

One of Saturday’s missed tackles, however, turned into a 15-yard touchdown when Mike linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton whiffed on Dontae Thomas-Williams after the freshman running back caught a swing pass in the flat.

The media was allowed to watch about 10 possessions. Most began with the offense deep in its own territory, though a few started from the defensive 25-yard line in a scoring-zone drill.

The first-team offense, working against the first-unit defense, produced only three points under quarterback Clint Trickett, while the second unit scored two touchdowns on Paul Millard passes.

DILLON DELIVERS: The first-team offense was threatening to march the field when nickel back K.J. Dillon undercut a receiver’s out-route to intercept a Clint Trickett pass at the 25-yard line.

The excitable Dillon also registered two sacks, leading Gibson to brag that “he’s the life of our defense.”

MILLARD MOVES NO. 2s: Millard’s first touchdown pass was a nicely threaded 19-yarder to KJ Myers in the back of the end zone. He also tossed the check-down pass that Thomas-Williams turned into a score.

Pinned against his goal line on an earlier series, Millard took a shot at a 99-yard pass that barely landed beyond a streaking Vernon Davis.

Despite wearing a gold no-contact jersey, Millard later scrambled out of his end zone and was knocked down by Shaq Riddick. The quarterback promptly bounced up and threw the ball into Riddick’s back as the defensive end ran off to celebrate the third-down stop.

Millard sported passing gloves again, just as he had done during Thursday’s media session. Asked about his switch from the bare-handed days of old, the senior joked that he had been diagnosed with “a micro-limb injury.” Then he admitted “Nah, that’s BS. We’re just having a good time.”

SMALLWOOD’S BIG GRABS: The buildup surrounding Wendell Smallwood’s versatility at slot receiver certainly was validated after the sophomore running back made a leaping downfield grab in traffic.

A series later he climbed high to catch another Trickett pass on a deep in-route.

“He’s a kid who’s going to be on the field for us because he’s so comfortable doing all the stuff he’s doing,” said running backs coach JaJuan Seider.

SHELL SORE: Pitt transfer Rushel Shell was dressed in pads but held out of the scrimmage with a minor leg injury.

“I took it easy on him today because he took one in the quad (Friday) night and he was sore,” Seider said. “I know where he’s at right now, so it didn’t make sense to go out there and put him in a (tough) situation. He could’ve went today if we wanted him to go.

TYLER TAKING OVER?:Despite a strong camp from true freshman Dravon Henry, it appears sophomore Jeremy Tyler has pulled ahead in the competition at free safety. Tyler took all the first-team reps Saturday while Henry sported a green non-contact jersey.
On a red-zone third-down situation, Tyler broke up a near-touchdown strike from Trickett to Daikiel Shorts.

LAMBERT MISFIRES: Assistant coach Joe DeForest was bothered by the inconsistency of Josh Lambert missing 2-of-3 field-goal tries, including a badly hooked attempt from inside 30 yards.

“He missed a 50-yarder wide right that would’ve been good, and then he made one, but then he missed a chipshot, and it’s disappointing,” DeForest said. “When he misses a kick, it’s his footwork, his approach to the ball. It’s not mental. Josh is pretty even-keel.”

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  • Rick55


    Coker, although I don't think you prepare for the QB; I think you prepare for the Alabama QB, it's the same plays either way. He' a transfer from FSU. I'm not sure anybody knows how good he is at this point. I hope we sack, strip, and pick 6, or at least give him a good ole slobberknockin'.

  • any major dude

    If Trickett or Millard fail; I think the question will be injury. I think in '14 Trickett was injured and the system was completely different than FSU. My opinion is that Millard knew the system but never felt comfortable in the pocket. The O line was patched together and ineffective.

    Trickett is ready to go. Don't want to read too much into the scrimmage but it sounds like Millard felt plenty comfortable. The effectiveness and depth of the O line is in question but it didn't seem like it caused problem in the scrimmage, for what that's worth.

    I definitely think that Holgorsen will use Crest in the event of a 1 and 2 fail. No way is he going to hold WC back for 2015 in that event.

  • Let'sGetItWVU

    Allan, any word on Lamar Parker during the scrimmage yesterday? He was getting some buzz early in camp, but assuming he'll get a redshirt

  • spiralninja

    I just saw a poll from BR regarding the starting QB at Bama. I realize it's only fan poll, yet it's tremendously lopsided in favor of Coker. Is that how we are preparing the D, to expect him as their starter? Is he any good? Don't see much about him. Opinions, anyone?

    Who will eventually win Alabama's quarterback battle?

    Jacob Coker 73.9%
    Blake Sims 26.1%

  • Quatro

    Crest is not in the picture early in the season if at all. He is extremely raw, both in knowing the offense and mechanics.

    I doubt he plays even if both Millard and Trickett get hurt. In that event, I would expect to see Moore (Howard will NEVER be capable of playing at this level so we won't see him unless injuries are catastrophic with at least 3 going down before him).

    The simple truth is that if we lose Trickett we're pretty much toast (not that we'll be gangbusters with him). Crest, this year, won't make us any better than will Millard and probably would make us worse.

    There is really no reason to waste a season of Crest's eligibility in a lost cause and lose the possibility of having him in his 5th year when he might be very capable and we might have a decent football team around him. A raw true freshman thrown in to play with a bad team is a disaster in the making.

    • Hop'sHip

      Why have you concluded Howard will never compete at this level? Is it a size issue? Were those highlight videos all a mirage. It seemed like he had pretty good touch and was even accurate throwing long. And he even demonstrated an ability to get yardage running the ball.

      • Sam

        I saw Howard live in Morgantown and Charleston. Not only is he not close to being physically capable of playing at this level he was much less physically impressive than even Logan Moore (who also is not a major college talent at QB).

        Howard was smaller, had a MUCH weaker arm, was not as quick or as powerful a runner as even Moore who was a soli WVIAc QB but not at this level. Howard might start for some DII schools in the country but has NO chance at this level, and I very much doubt there are even 5 FCS schools where he could play.

        And, that's not even taking into account that he was very inaccurate, when he got throws off, couldn't get throws off more than half the time (against out 3rd rate pass rush) even when he wasn't getting hit, and that when he ran he ran in a panicked out of control way and looked jus completely overwhelmed .Those are things that some people can grow out of but even without all the glaring mental weaknesses he isn't even close to being a poer 5 conference QB.

        He will never take a meaningful snap here unless we have QBs dropping like flies and literally have no otherone available.

        If he ever wants to play he needs to transfer to a weak FCS school or DII.

      • Ole Sasquatch

        I agree with Hop's Hip & WVU Fanatic. I did not think I was going out on a limb when I declared that he would be the QB. I know there was a lot of negative things said during Spring Season. Then I watched the Spring Game on TV and he was certainly competitive with the other qbs'. Figured once he had more snaps in the fall he would keep progressing.
        I guess he has been red shirted and I am going to wait until he appears in a game before I admit I was wrong.

        • Aaron

          What if he doesn't appear in any games?

          • Aaron

            Who, Howard? His only other offers were New Mexico State and Northern Colorado. The only other Power 5 team looking at him was Va Tech. I hardly think either Texas or USC will be interested. If he's smart, he'll take the year of learning before transferring to a really good FCS team.

          • Ole Sasquatch

            I think Texas or USC will pick him up.

    • Let'sGetWVU

      Trickett gives us the best chance to win. Millard knows more than any other QB. Crest is the most gifted QB talent we have. Up until yesterday, all indications where Crest would not be redshirting and would give Millard a challenge for the #2. I think it's do or die for Dana and if Trickett is injured, he needs options out there. If Crest can get up to maybe half of the knowledge Trickett was able to get early on, I think he's a great option if Millard starts to stink it up.

      • Aaron

        If both Trickett and Millard fail, I would suggest the season is lost and at that point, is it worth wasting a year of eligibility for Crest?

  • wvufanatic

    What happened to skylar early on it seemed he would be in the thick of it but havent heard anything through camp?

    • Allan Taylor

      This summer Holgorsen said the intention was to redshirt Skyler Howard.

  • wvufanatic

    I am with aaron the defense usually is ahead vof the offence. This is why its important for the defence to start quick early in the season until the offence gets enough game reps to gel completely. And I feel thats a good sign that our defence is playing well I think this season is going to be much better than advertised. I hope trickett stays healthy but millard is a competent starter.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    Not much scoring - my thoughts immediately go to that old nemesis of our own offensive line. No publicity on it here and it's the cornerstone of our offense. Why not writers? Let's not lose sight of basics especially if we have what has been advertised as a more than solid backfield. This makes me very nervous. If our offensive line isn't stellar forget about an upset over Alabama - their offense will be on the field all day long!
    I think Holgorsen needs to sit down with Crook immediately and have a heart to heart.

    • Aaron

      One positive for the offensive line is that they have returned to the zone blocking scheme instead of the power blocking championed by Bill Stewart when he took over from Rich Rod.

      Power blocking requires much more discipline and organized running lanes in which backs are forced to make proper reads and linemen are responsible for specific defensive players. Less experience players often have difficulty in this scheme, particularly against 3 man fronts.

      In a zone blocking scheme, the offensive line moves laterally using momentum to move defensive lineman and the result is natural seams for lineman to run. It's the style utilized by Denver which allowed various backs to have outstanding success. It's also the same scheme in which WVU ran for 300 plus yards and was always ranked near the top of the nation in rushing yards per game.

      For an offense that averaged 400 yards per game last year, it should aid in in keeping the offense on the field in critical down and distance situations.

      • Ole Sasquatch

        Hoping it does make a difference Aaron.

    • Let'sGetItWVU

      Exactly, there has been very little on the offensive line. Doesn't really matter who you have there if defenders are easily getting into the backfield.

  • Sam

    Has the media been allowed to watch Crest in any 11 on 11 live drills at all?

    If so, any impressions?

    • Allan Taylor

      We saw Crest lead a couple series on Saturday and previously he took snaps during an 11-on-11 tempo drill. He's a strong-armed kid who isn't bashful about taking deep shots, and looks like a natural for running the read-option. But you sense he's not smooth in processing through receiver progressions, something that should come with a year in the system.

  • Aaron

    Defenses normally proceed faster than offenses and given that the play calling was likely vanilla during the media session, I will assume that Holdorsen and company were not anxious to put too much on film for Alabama to see prior to the 30th.

    Ideally, a team coming off the uncertainty WVU did last year would face a softer opening opponent but it is what it is so they'll play the game and see how the chips fall. One thing is certain, WVU will face no tougher opposition after week 1 so even with the Big 12 schedule, it's still uphill from there.

  • any major dude

    It seems clear now what the QB situation is. Trickett is #1 and will be unless and until they have to drag him off the field. Millard is locked in at the #2. There will be no special packages for Crest. He is there to learn what's its like to travel, game prep, and do all the things that are necessary to be the future QB. Of course with injuries, this can change but he's unlikely to see action as QB unless both become unavailable. I doubt if Crest is used on special teams either, but wouldn't bet the mortgage on it. That'a the way I see it.

  • Ron - From Morgantown

    First , let me say it's total BS that the media can only watch 10 possessions . It's a bunch of crap . In fact the last scrimmage of fall practice should be open to the public . With the students and parents in town (to drop them off) it could be quite a weekend . I bet with good weather you could get 25000 for the final scrimmage . Charge 5 $ and make money on concessions . The ego of these coaches is amazing . Moving on ...I think Shell was held out because he will be the stealth athlete in the chicken bowl . No need to show anything here , if fact he isn't even on the team ( wink ) .

  • FNP

    These guys are reporting in barely anything. They were only let in for a few plays. Don't put too much stock in these scrimmages.

  • Tomgone12

    Good D or Poor O Allan?

    • Allan Taylor

      We saw a few three-and-outs and a few drives where the first- and second-team offenses got moving. Trickett missed a couple throws, and Travis Bell broke up a fade route intended for Kevin White in the end zone. The defense also played some dime packages. Don't recall seeing fumbles. We probably watched 40-50 plays.

  • Itch

    If this were a game of blackjack, staying with Trickett as your starter is like holding with a fifteen against the dealer--might seem like the safe thing to do but the odds are not in your favor. Millard is a 14 at best. If Holgy puts in Crest when the team doesn't move against Alabama and makes him a starter, by the end of the season, Crest will surely have better stats than his mediocre competition with zero upside. Okay, who knows?? but Crest could very well be a 17 by the end of his first season, and an 18 or a 19 by the time he is a senior.

    • Let'sGetItWVU

      haha, great analogy. My belief is that if we're out of it against Bama, Crest should get a shot to see how he handles it out there. He still has a ton to learn, but giving him a chance at real game situation in that atmosphere will be key before he has to be thrown out there fresh if injuries occur.

    • Ron - From Morgantown

      Can I double down on any two cards ? How many times can I split ? Does the dealer have to stay on a soft 17 ? Can I have insurance ? How many decks ? How deep are you dealing before shuffling ? Is it an automatic shuffler ?

      • Vegaseer

        Ron, Ha! Great questions indeed!