Quick Hits: WVU Football Holds First Scrimmage - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Quick Hits: WVU Football Holds First Scrimmage

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WVU receiver Dante Campbell catches a touchdown pass in walk through Sunday. WVU receiver Dante Campbell catches a touchdown pass in walk through Sunday.
MORGANTOWN -

And so begins the second half of WVU's spring practices.

On Sunday night, the team took the field two hours later than normal, presumably done in an effort to allow the players and staff to celebrate the Easter holiday.

Another change in the schedule was that the media would only be allowed 25 minutes of observance as opposed to its usual 30. With that in mind, let's get into five-sixths of an ordinary practice's news and notes, starting with the scrimmage.

-       That Orange Bowl offense seemed to pick up right where it left off in January. The first drive, which is the only one the media was allowed to see (and even that apparently was only because we weren't shooed away quickly enough), lasted just five plays.

Geno Smith got the ball going with a first-and-10 at his own two-yard-line by connecting with Tavon Austin, who had lined up in the slot to his right. Austin caught the ball far enough downfield to gain the first down, but this was tackle football and no one was able to bring him down before he had picked up 55 yards.

With the offense rushing to the line to catch the defense before it had time to fully grasp what had just happened, the run game got a chance to show its stuff. Shawne Alston rushed up the middle for 12 yards before Andrew Buie caught a screen in the flats and took it all the way to the 3-yard-line, a gain of 28.

The only setback in the drive came on the next play, when the offense was called for a false start that gave it a first-and-goal from the eight rather than the three. But that was no deterrent for Alston, who rumbled forward those eight yards for six points.

-       While the offense was chest bumping and celebrating its 76th point of the new year, the defense seemed in disarray. It hardly had time to figure out what had occurred on the first play before it was suddenly being scored on. Co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest could be heard on the sideline saying, "All missed tackles."

WVU's offense has the talent to make missed tackles turn into scores, and the defense needs to make sure this is the only offense that witnesses its inability to bring down a ball carrier.

-       There wasn't time to jot down the starters on defense, which actually seems more intriguing, but I did make note of those on offense. The line consisted of Quinton Spain at left tackle, Josh Jenkins at left guard, Joe Madsen at center, Jeff Braun at right guard and Pat Eger at right tackle.

Quarterback Geno Smith got things rolling behind center with Alston at "A" back and Ryan Clarke at "B" back, while Austin, Stedman Bailey and Ryan Nehlen made up the receiving corps.

No real surprises there, but with the combination of a camera to operate, notes to take and high-tempo offense at work, I didn't notice what other personnel got on the field other than Buie.

-       Ivan McCartney, though not in the starting lineup, was back in action throughout individual drills today. McCartney has been struggling with an injury and listed as day-to-day for much of spring.

-       If you are an offensive recruit, you must be pleased by what occurred on that initial drive. There were a number of high school prospects on the field Sunday, including Anthony Jennings, a 3-star quarterback with 14 offers according to Rivals.com, who hails from Marietta, Georgia. Before the scrimmage began, Dana Holgorsen asked the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Jennings if he wanted to take the first snap. Difficult to predict whether or not he would have also come away with a 55-yard hook up to Austin.

-       A few other recruits on hand included a running back from Lanham, Maryland named Shamik Perry and Derwin Gray, a 4-star offensive tackle with 13 offers from some big programs. Daron Roberts is in charge of Gray's recruiting and he is certainly a player high on the Mountaineers' list as they look to develop depth on the line for the future.

-       WVU got things started with special teams again and again the focus was kickoff return. A surprised onsides was snuffed out by Wes Tonkery on the first kick and the second was blocked perfectly for Austin to get to the sideline and assuming Bailey picked off the last defender, it would have been a touchdown.

Then again, that's the starting unit against scout team, so the odds are ever in the return team's favor.

-       Actual officials with real whistles and striped shirts were on the field to make sure the Mountaineers weren't doing anything illegal through the course of each drill and into the scrimmage.

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