Quick Hits: Mountaineers Scrimmage in Charleston - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Quick Hits: Mountaineers Scrimmage in Charleston

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CHARLESTON -

Saturday's practice for the West Virginia University football team was precisely what Dana Holgorsen was looking for when he and his staff made the decision to take their Mountaineers around the state this spring.

The fans – estimated to exceed 5,000 – did not just come out to observe, but rather to participate.

With the Capitol Building looming behind Laidley Field, WVU players broke up the monotony of spring drills with a scrimmage in front of cheering fans.

"In practice, once you get a good hit or something like that, you probably hear it from the sideline, but having a big crowd doing it, it just brings more energy and makes you want to play another play," WVU linebacker Isaiah Bruce said.

A "Let's Go Mountaineers" chant began when the team was going through individual drills and that's when you knew that practice would be different than others. The fans in this part of the state don't always get to feel so close to WVU and the opportunity to get an inside look was a welcome addition to their Saturday schedule.

"I work in the coal mines and we usually work on Saturdays," said Cliff Workman, a WVU fan who joined thousands in the stands. "Even our superintendent and management said, ‘No work Saturday. Let's go watch the Mountaineers.' That meant a lot to us, seeing them come down here."

Here's a bit of what the fans were treated to on Saturday:

-       Dustin Garrison was flooded with media requests after the standout day he had both in the scrimmage and in the Oklahoma Drill.

The redshirt junior running back decided to take on outside linebacker Brandon Golson one-on-one. Golson outweighs Garrison by 50 pounds and has a six-inch height advantage, but Garrison did not see what about this pairing was a mismatch. According to Garrison, the exchange went something like this:

Golson: "No, you've got to get out."

Garrison: "I'm not getting out."

Golson: "I want Cody Clay."

Garrison: "No. You got me."

Next thing you know, Golson was on his back and Garrison made himself a nice pancake breakfast.
"We went heads up and I think he thought I was going to be scared of him, but that's not going to happen," Garrison said. "I got the best of him and he said he's going to get me back tomorrow."

Garrison finished the scrimmage with two touchdowns and an unofficial 43 yards on nine carries. He consistently pushed the pile and showed that his 5-foot-8, 180-pound frame could be deceiving if anyone chose to underestimate his power.  

-       Maybe it was a homecoming display of sorts, but redshirt freshman Elijah Wellman showed athleticism in Saturday's practice that was not evident before the scrimmage. The Huntington native had two receptions for 27 yards, capped off with a touchdown as he streaked across the back of the end zone as the day was wrapping up. WVU assistant coach Ja-Juan Seider says one year has made a world of difference for the West Virginian.

-       Might as well get the stats out of the way with regards to quarterback. Paul Millard completed 20 of his 25 attempts for 184 yards while Logan Moore was an efficient 9-of-11 for 74 yards and two scores. In addition to his touchdown pass to Wellman, Moore found Devante Mathis on third down and 16 for a 31-yard score. Skyler Howard had 38 yards on 5-of-10 passing.

-       Howard didn't have any scores of his own, but he and the rest of the second-team offense helped contribute some points to the defense. Christian Brown was credited with a sack when Howard and the Mountaineers were backed up on their own two-yard-line, giving the defense a safety. Even if Brown hadn't gotten to Howard, there was a holding penalty in the end zone that still would have awarded the defense its two points.

-       Ishmael Banks scooped up a fumbled exchange and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown, though he admits that when he first came up with the ball he wasn't sure whether or not the play was still live.

"I was just in a light jog and then I saw big Quinton Spain coming at me and I said, ‘No, not letting him catch me,'" Banks recalled. "I tried taking off and I saw Logan [Moore] coming and I said, ‘No, I can't get caught by the quarterback because they'll never let me live that one down.'"

-       WVU's safeties made their presence known, starting with a big hit from Karl Joseph that got everyone in attendance to recognize that this practice would not be a game of patty cake. Jeremy Tyler later laid a big hit on running back Dreamius Smith to dislodge the ball, resulting in a Kyle Rose fumble recovery. Smith was helped to the sideline and sat out the rest of the practice, but Coach Seider said afterward that he would be fine going forward.

Both Tyler and freshman DB Daryl Worley had interceptions in their hands, but the ball glanced off and fell incomplete.

The Mountaineers will be back on the practice field in Morgantown for sessions on Tuesday and Thursday and WVU wraps up its spring session with the annual Gold-Blue Game on Saturday at 1 p.m. That game will be broadcasted live on your local West Virginia Media Station. 

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