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Spring Game Provides Opportunity For Good Last Impression

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MORGANTOWN -

The West Virginia University football team is wrapping up its spring practice sessions this week.

Spring ball gave the defensive players an opportunity to play for their new coaches. It also gave the offensive players a chance to get even more familiar with Dana Holgorsen's offense. 

The new defensive coaching staff spent the spring installing a new 3-4 scheme, replacing the old 3-3-5 odd stack run by former Defensive Coordinator Jeff Casteel.

Defensive players are competing hard to show their new coaches what they can do. They already made their first impressions. Some were good, some not so good.

Once the Gold-Blue game is over, the players and coaches will not be on the field together again until fall camp begins in August. That makes Saturday's game an important opportunity for the players to leave a good lasting impression on their coaches. 

"Last impression is just as important as the first impression," Freshman Receiver Jordan Thompson said. "They want to see you progress and see if you are consistent. If you start out well, but end bad it leaves a bad impression. If you start off bad and leave a good impression it leaves a suspect impression because you never know what you are going to give them as a player. Last impression and first impression are definitely big."

"I think it is really important leaving that lasting impression," Defensive End Will Clarke said. "If the coach remembers you jumping offsides or missing an assignment that is what they will remember coming into fall camp. But if they remember you making a big play or making a special sack or something that will be something they remember you by."

Saturday's game also creates a bit of a dilemma for the players and the way they approach it. Some look at it as another practice, others view it as a game and others look at as both a practice and a game.

"You approach it as a practice, being the first spring with the new coaches, but you also approach it as a game to have fun with the guys and prove yourself as well," Linebacker Jared Barber said. "There is no spot set in stone, so you need to get out there and have fun and prove yourself as well."

"It's another practice, but there definitely is more energy with people there," Offensive Lineman Joe Madsen said. "You have family coming down and watching you. Other people are going to be there so you want to show them your best work. It's a little more than a practice."

"My first one I played I looked at as more of a game situation," Clarke said. "Now that I am older, I look at it as another practice situation. It's another scrimmage."

Regardless, there is definitely more energy inside the stadium for the Gold-Blue game than there is at a regular practice. The people, families and noise help make the atmosphere so enjoyable for the players. It is also the first time they will play in front of the fans since blowing out Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl.

"It's the first time you play in front of your fans again," Receiver J.D. Woods said. "You want to put on a show for them and make them happy and also make your team happy." 

The players should enjoy the Gold-Blue game. Once it is over, summer workouts will begin.

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