Quick Hits: Mountaineers Kick Off Fall Camp - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Quick Hits: Mountaineers Kick Off Fall Camp

Posted:
Dana Holgorsen gets the team fired up at the start of Day 1 of fall camp. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) Dana Holgorsen gets the team fired up at the start of Day 1 of fall camp. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
MORGANTOWN -

Sunday night had the same energy we have come to expect from the first day of fall camp. The Mountaineer football team took the field as screams of excitement rang out to kick off the five week period before the season begins.

“Everybody in the country is excited about practice No. 1. We’re no different,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “A lot of pep in their step and that’s the way it should be.”

Let’s see how much pep they’ve got left in those steps five weeks from now. This is about to be the longest camp Holgorsen has ever been a part of as college football has eliminated two-a-days and stretched the length of this prep time beyond anything these players will have experienced. The head coach said it will be different, and it will drag, but it’s up to the staff to make sure the athletes handle themselves the right way through the grueling weeks ahead.

“They’re going to have a day off. In camp, that’s never happened before,” Holgorsen said. “I made a big deal with them about this this morning when we met with them that you’re going to have more rest and relaxation time. Camp’s going to be camp. It’s going to be hard, but the thing about it is it’s going to be long. We’ve got to be creative in keeping their attention.”

Here are some notes from Holgorsen’s 10 minutes with the media prior to Day 1 of fall camp Sunday evening in Morgantown:

  • David Long was relegated to light work jogging around the perimeter of the field today as the redshirt sophomore linebacker continues from an offseason leg injury that will cause him to miss the start of the season. The good news is he isn’t expected to miss much time and Holgorsen expects him and offensive lineman Jacob Buccigrossi back before league play begins.

“Way ahead of schedule,” Holgorsen said of both players. “Whether they miss one game to four games, we’re going to get them back pretty quick. They’re doing what they’re supposed to. We’ll have a full roster come Big 12 time.”

So who is taking advantage of the extra snaps available in WVU’s linebacker unit with Long down?

How about Bridgeport High School graduate Dylan Tonkery?

Holgorsen says the redshirt freshman, who has earned rave reviews from coaches and teammates alike, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the team’s strength and conditioning program.

“He don’t look anywhere like he did a year ago,” Holgorsen said of the 6-foot, 219-pound Tonkery. “He looks like a completely different guy. Smart like [big brother] Wes [Tonkery] was, but physically, he’s already better than Wes ever could have imagined to be. He looks good right now at Will.”

  • Speaking of the strength staff, Holgorsen echoed what many of his players have said this summer: This is the best offseason program they have had to date.

You essentially hear that from every player every year, but just this month, senior linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton said that there are former Mountaineers now in the NFL who couldn’t have done what he and his teammates have accomplished this summer.

“The strength and conditioning numbers are better than they’ve ever been and it’s not even close,” Holgorsen said, thanking strength coach Mike Joseph and his staff. “Our guys, they look good, they feel good.”

  • Dravon Askew-Henry has a clean bill of health and showed it with his speed Sunday night. When asked if his junior free safety was back to 100 percent, Holgorsen didn't hesitate in giving his response. 

"Yeah, he looks great. Has been. Had a great summer."

Good news for a defense that could use all of the returning experience it can get. 

  • Holgorsen knows his team has the most turnover of any in the Big 12 and that as a result, it is all the way down at No. 6 in the preseason media poll. That isn’t stopping him from feeling confident about what he’s working with and the biggest reason may be the depth he’s accumulated across the board.

“I think the potential’s pretty good. You look at all the projections out there, we’re supposed to stink, but I think we’re in a pretty good spot,” Holgorsen said. “Our depth is really good. We’ve been building this team to the point to where our second team guys look just like our first team guys. I like the aspect of continuity, I like the aspect of depth. My job is to get the morale high, which I think is good right now, but over the course of five weeks, I’ve got to keep it high and continue to move it forward.”

  • Jake Spavital brings four years of experience as an offensive coordinator back with him to West Virginia this season, but Holgorsen doesn’t believe we should be expecting a major overhaul to what that unit will look like this season compared to last.

“Having Jake’s take on different things is probably going to mean we tweak things more than we have in the past,” the head coach said. “The base nuts and bolts of what we do is not different, but it’s fun to be able to do some different things. We’ve done that every year, but this is probably a little bit more than normal just based on the fact that he’s kind of done his own thing for four years and brought some things that I thought have been very creative.”

The biggest difference will be the new personnel they have to work with, especially quarterback Will Grier.

“We’ve got a different type of quarterback this year than we had last year, so that’s going to change things,” Holgorsen said. “It’s been fun to what [Grier] progress. I haven’t really seen him with the ball since the spring game. We worked with him a little in June. I hear they’re a lot more familiar and comfortable with what we’re doing. I’m excited about watching it. It’s the first time I’ve seen it since y’all watched the spring game.”

The Mountaineers return to the practice field Monday. Check back to wvillustrated.com in the afternoon for video interviews with the WVU assistant coaches.

  • More SportsMore>>

  • No. 1 WVU Takes Down No. 5 Georgetown in Opener

    No. 1 WVU Takes Down No. 5 Georgetown in Opener

    Sophomore goalkeeper Rylee Foster had seven saves as No. 1 WVU knocked off No. 5 Georgetown on the road. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)Sophomore goalkeeper Rylee Foster had seven saves as No. 1 WVU knocked off No. 5 Georgetown on the road. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)

    Michaela Abam scores lone goal of the game as Rylee Foster keeps the Mountaineer net clean with seven saves. 

    Michaela Abam scores lone goal of the game as Rylee Foster keeps the Mountaineer net clean with seven saves. 

  • Lyons Talks Old Rivalries, Big 12 Championship, Facility Upgrades

    Lyons Talks Old Rivalries, Big 12 Championship, Facility Upgrades

    Thursday, August 17 2017 5:16 PM EDT2017-08-17 21:16:53 GMT
    WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons speaks with the media.WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons speaks with the media.

    Hear about all things WVU Athletics from Director of Athletics Shane Lyons. 

    Hear about all things WVU Athletics from Director of Athletics Shane Lyons. 

  • Piatczyc to Miss 2017 Season

    Piatczyc to Miss 2017 Season

    Thursday, August 17 2017 4:15 PM EDT2017-08-17 20:15:14 GMT
    WVU's Joey Piatczyc will miss the 2017 season after sustaining a knee injury prior to the start of preseason practice. (PHOTO: WVU Sports Communications)WVU's Joey Piatczyc will miss the 2017 season after sustaining a knee injury prior to the start of preseason practice. (PHOTO: WVU Sports Communications)

    Details on why senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc will miss the 2017 season.

    Details on why senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc will miss the 2017 season.