Mountaineers Finish Camp Without Smith - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Finish Camp Without Smith

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MORGANTOWN -

Dana Holgorsen announced Thursday that his West Virginia team would be without its starting quarterback for the final two days of fall camp as Geno Smith spends time with family following his grandmother's passing.

Smith was noticeably absent from the practice field, but will return to campus in time for the start of class at WVU on Monday. That day also marks the beginning of game preparation for the Mountaineers' season opener against Marshall on Sept. 1.

In the starter's absence, both sophomore Paul Millard and freshman Ford Childress took more reps than they have been afforded thus far in camp.

"Ford's a guy who is talented, but he is where Paul was a year ago from a knowledge standpoint and a rep standpoint," says Holgorsen. "It goes from getting 20-25 percent of the reps to getting 50 percent of the reps, which means they get better."

The increase in action can certainly serve as a litmus test of sorts in case Smith were to go down during the season and Millard had to step in with Childress then becoming the next in time.

Unfortunately for WVU, the results of this test, in Holgorsen's eyes at least, were not stellar.

"They look like young, inexperienced backup quarterbacks out there and the more they rep the better they'll be at it," says Holgorsen. "Heaven forbid ever having to be in that situation to have to put them in with the first string, because Geno clearly makes everybody else around him better. Both Ford and Pat, who rep with the first team, don't necessarily make everyone around them better."

As there are still two days of practice remaining in this year's camp before the attention shifts to the Herd, there are plenty of position battles that still stand wide open.

At defensive line, Holgorsen counts about 15 bodies rotating through the four positions, including the buck linebacker. That number will have to be cut down in the coming days to find the top two at each spot in order to get a more clear understanding of where the players fit in as far as the game day scheme is concerned.

"We don't have any Bruce Irvins at this point, so we're just trying to find guys that can rush the passer and trying to locate bigger guys who can stop the run like Julian (Miller) did for us," says the head coach.

A position with far fewer questions is receiver. Holgorsen is confident in listing Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, J.D. Woods and Jordan Thompson as his top four who will start when the season begins and now the onus of finding their primary backups falls on the offensive staff.

As those questions find answers, a depth chart will form heading into the season. At this point, Holgorsen looks to let that take shape in the middle of the coming week between Tuesday and Thursday's practices with a clear understanding of each player's role once the following week begins.

Regardless of what titles the weeks ahead have – camp versus game prep – the personnel will be expected to continue to push for positions on the field. That competition can only make the entire unit better when the games kick off.

"The No.1 motivational factor for anybody ever is competition. It's either yours or somebody is going to take it from you," says Holgorsen. "The more competition that can exist amongst the specific positions, the more you're going to get out of it, the more effort you're going to get out of it, the more focus and the more want. "

Thursday's practice was the final open day of drills for the media as the Mountaineers wrap up two weeks of camp leading into their inaugural season in the Big 12.

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