Thank goodness, today’s presser wasn’t terrible

August 14, 2014 by Mike Casazza

That was just the beginning.

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Return of the diamond?

August 14, 2014 by Mike Casazza

As you know, WVU has all those running backs and we’ve wondered before, “What will the Mountaineers do with all those bodies and all that talent?” We’re starting to get some answers. Read the rest of this entry »

This whole thing is so dumb

August 13, 2014 by Mike Casazza Dana Holgorsen decided to, or more likely was made to, clarify the remark he made Monday about how lying is part of recruiting.

“At my press conference on Monday, I was speaking with a group of our beat reporters, and the subject of the NCAA legislation concerning unlimited meals and its impact on recruiting was brought up. In a lighthearted moment, I made a comment in jest that was meant to imply that the unlimited meals will be an important selling point with recruits and that all coaches will have to be salesmen on this matter. I further implied that the best way for recruits to understand what really is occurring on a campus is by having them talk to the current student-athletes. I used a poor choice of words in explaining this position.”

I’m not outraged by this, because I think it’s insane and it shouldn’t occupy my time, but I’m shocked it happened. No way he walked out of there Monday and thought, “I just stepped in it.” But then it happened. The reaction across the web was narrow in its focus — let’s be honest, too, and say it was a bigger deal because Dana said it — and performed mostly without context of the conversation and the content of the question. Those things kind of matter. That this clarification happened two days later ought not merely whisper to you, either. It’s the worst part because this had already gone away and been replaced by the next line of things that get displayed in that sect of short attention span theater that is digital journalism. Twitter has a short memory when it comes to stuff like that because people look for and find and feast on the next thing, be it big or little. Now it’s back in the cycle and, just you watch, people will make a meal out of the content of Dana’s clarification statement, which is high comedy considering such common sense at the outset could have prevented this in the first place. Actually, here’s the worst part: The Dana Holgorsen we’ve had fun with and laughed with and so enjoyed during camp will zip it up now while the people who poked at a mole hill won’t have to deal with that repercussion. Thanks a lot, gang.

Let’s keep the WVU v. MU thing rolling

August 13, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Today began like this …

(That story … tremendously tremendous.) The FBH tweet was then favorited by Real Bob’s daughter, among many others. Because it’s funny. Not because WVU doesn’t much care for playing Marshall in basketball. No.

Then we had the Jacob McCrary thing — look for him to try to get in at Northwestern Mississippi Community College; WVU has a nice rapport with that staff — and then some sniping at a Marshall columnist (not this one …).

Now we have this: The Mountaineers can kindasorta thank the Thundering Herd for acquiring Shaq Riddick.

But the Mountaineers didn’t really know about Riddick until May.

“I got a phone call saying, ‘Hey, this kid is leaving and he’s a 6-6 defensive end,’ ” Gibson remembered. “I got the film sent to me and watched it on my cell phone. I was in Florida recruiting and I watched about eight to 10 plays and said, ‘We need to get this guy,’ and we went to work on it.”

Gibson said the early part of Riddick’s highlight tape was a series of plays from the loss to Marshall. Riddick had seven tackles, two sacks and three tackles for a loss. He ended up with 81/2 sacks and hasn’t shown anything different with the Mountaineers.

“He’s special as far as that’s concerned,” Gibson said. “Is he going to be a guy who beats double teams and comes through the gap to stop the run every snap? No, but we understand his limitations with that.”

(Updated) On erstwhile WVU receiver recruits

August 13, 2014 by Mike Casazza

That’d be Jacob McCrary, who got the definitive news he wasn’t going to make the grade and enroll at WVU. He would subsequently tweet that he had to do “what’s best for me and my family.”

That means getting into a university right away as opposed to waiting, and it seems as though that means going to Marshall, which accepts non-qualifiers and of late has developed some quite nicely.

McCrary told the dot-coms last night he’d committed to the Thundering Herd and he then retweeted a few messages welcoming him to the Marshall family … but we’ll see about all that.

(Update! Like, Immediate Update. As in, I scheduled the post to publish at 10:10 a.m. and at 10:10:40 a.m. McCrary tweeted and flipped the whole thing upside down. Sort of. I’ll explain.

Anyhow, here’s his update.

OK. Refer to the original entry where I said that doing what’s best for McCrary and his family “means getting into a university right away as opposed to waiting.” Waiting means a year or two years in a junior college. That’s not free and, initially, it’ll ruin a kid’s appetite.

It would seem he slept on it and came to accept the long play was the right play. He’ll enroll in a junior college — I’ve heard one of the many in Mississippi — and we can safely assume he’ll be welcome at WVU so long as he graduates. That Marshall part was always weird, and I wonder if the long play was the only play.

Go to the second paragraph in the original entry and the part where we cap the talk about McCrary going to Marshall with “… but we’ll see about all that.” Grades are grades, man. Marshall has admission policies, too, and we had our doubts last night.

So there’s the fresh coat of paint on the original. The rest stands.)

Marshall isn’t new to taking kids that couldn’t get in at WVU — and that’s not a slight; it’s a segue. Remember Deon-Tay McManus? He was WVU’s big-time 2012 wide receiver commit from Dunbar who ended up having to prep a year in Atlanta and sit out last season as a non-qualifier at Marshall. He’s a tight end now, which could be a scary proposition in that offense and with his size and skills.

Anyhow, McCrary’s miss ends WVU’s run of signed and enrolled players and it stands to reason WVU will lose more from the 2014 class. Dontae Angus, Jaylon Myers and Justin Scott are still out there, though I heard earlier this week that Myers had a good summer and isn’t the long shot he once was. He’s got a chance, but it has to happen by the 22nd. If I had to rank the remaining three in order of most likely to enroll to least likely, it’d be Myers, Angus, Scott.

They just need two

August 12, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Time is ticking here in camp and Dana Holgorsen and his assistants are closer by the day to designing depth charts. West Virginia has two wide receivers and needs two more, meaning one issue at the start of camp is gone and has been replaced by another.

CAMP BEGAN WITH questions about who’ll play inside receiver with and behind Daikiel Shorts, and that took a bad turn with news that one candidate, redshirt freshman Jacky Marcellus, would miss the season with a knee injury.

Camp is closing with answers there and questions at wide receiver.

Holgorsen said Logan Moore, who competed for the quarterback spot in the spring, has earned a spot at inside receiver and Jordan Thompson has been “phenomenal” so far.

“He may be turning a corner toward making plays,” Holgorsen said.

Right now, there are only names behind wide receivers Mario Alford and Kevin White. Holgorsen said he’d like to get two backups out of junior K.J. Myers, sophomores Vernon Davis and Devonte Mathis and redshirt freshman Shelton Gibson and their 25 career receptions.

K.J. Dillon is back and all is well

August 12, 2014 by Mike Casazza

He won’t say what he did to injure his left ankle and rob him of the first week-plus of preseason camp, but K.J. Dillon, injured at home, is back at practice and unencumbered.

He was a little more willing to discuss the details of lifestyle changes he has to make to manage living with diabetes. It’s new and different, but it’s not hard. Not for Dillon. If you know him, you know he rather likes a challenge.

“When you make the main thing the main thing, you’re on the right track,” he said.

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The rapscallion Shannon Dawson

August 12, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Shannon Dawson blindsides Paul Millard but reminds the quarterback that though the drill may stop, the focus on ball security can never end.

You might think this is nothing, but remember, Millard fumbled seven times, lost four fumbles and threw six interceptions in seven games — that’s two starts and parts of five others — last season.

Video blog: Day 12

August 11, 2014 by Mike Casazza

It’s Practice Day 11, though, and that’s the framework for today’s vlog.

Spiked shoulder pads would be cool

August 11, 2014 by Mike Casazza


Dana Holgorsen’s well-timed thoughts on his running backs, on Rushel shell’s ascent, on the need for Dreamius Smith to get going, on Eli Wellman showing signs work well in conjunction with today’s look at the position as told by the players and position coach.

“That’s one of the biggest things Dana had lacking early — just not a lot of depth in that room,” Seider said of fourth-year WVU coach Dana Holgorsen. “There were a couple games when he said he first got here and he was down to nobody. He was down to a fullback playing tailback.

“Guys are going to get banged up. The Big 12 Conference is very physical, so you need a plethora of guys and not have to change what you’re doing when somebody goes down.”

So, the Mountaineers are getting creative in how to use each back, keep them fresh and flummox the defense. The “20” personnel — that’s two backs and no tight ends — and the versatility of the six traditional running backs could get as many as three backs on the field at the same time.

“It wouldn’t surprise me at all,” Smith said of that possibility.

Hypothetically, Smith (5-foot-11, 216 pounds) and Shell (6-0, 210) could line up in the backfield with Smallwood (5-11, 200) in the slot on one play, and then Smallwood could shift to the backfield on the next play to give WVU a three-back look without changing personnel.

They can all carry the ball, obviously, but to stay on the field they’ll need to block and catch passes, too.

Seider isn’t concerned about the depth chart or how he’ll keep as many as six running backs — depending on if prized recruit Thomas-Williams (6-0, 221) redshirts or not — touches.

“You worry about that when the season starts,” Seider said. “We always figure it out. We played three or four guys last year a majority of the games. If a guy gets hot, you don’t take the hot guy out. When we get back to playing 80, 90 snaps a game, it takes care of itself. When you’re playing 50, 60 snaps a game, then you’ve got issues getting guys carries.”