The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
West Virginia University concluded practice with the annual Gold-Blue Spring game. Due to upgrades being done at Mylan Puskar Stadium, the Mountaineers took to the road for this year’s event.
The host was gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice and his resort, the Greenbrier. Everything there is first class and Mountaineer Head Coach Dana Holgorsen opened up his post game press conference by thanking Justice of all the hospitality shown to his players. He also appeared to be lobbying for an overnight stay at “Americas Resort” next year. That could be a possibility if his squad can turn the corner and compete for the conference crown this fall.
Over 6,000 WVU fans attended last Saturday’s gridiron gala, and they were treated to a partial preview of this year’s edition. Holgorsen himself even explained that there will be more players in the mix and on the depth chart when the Mounties open up with Missouri on the 3rd of September.
One player that looks to have a starting job is senior signal caller, Skyler Howard. Howard received a vote of confidence from Holgorsen in the post game press conference. The major miscue according to the coach was on the interception in the third quarter by Antonio Crawford that was returned 23 yards for a score. Howard was 18 of 26 on the day for 270 yards and three touchdowns. His 15 yards per completion average was respectable and his confidence level has appeared to rise as well. This team needs Howard to start the season on a high note and keep it going if they want to produce wins this season.
Howard and the entire quarterback corp had a collectively productive day in spite of the four interceptions that were thrown on the afternoon.
The ground game looked strong and was paced by William Crest Jr. Crest Jr. picked up 89 yards on 12 carries and he also threw a 13 yard touchdown pass to David Sills. Mountaineer feature back, Rushel Shell was limited to just nine carries but produced 50 rushing yards.
Despite all of the offensive weapons and their production, the defense held a 46-36 lead after three periods of play. The scoring used in this ending scrimmage is varied so that the defensive unit can earn points which could eventually lead to a win. However, the offense would own the fourth quarter and would eventually earn the win.
There were two really big winners surrounding this event. Newcomers to the program that are trying to put themselves into position to earn some playing time and Mountaineer fans that reside in the southern part of the state. Former Bridgeport High School standout Dylan Tonkery saw time on the defensive side of the pigskin and made an impact on several plays. Tonkery’s older brother Wes was an intrical part of WVU’s defense during his day in Morgantown. Dylan is looking to make a name for himself just as several other new arrivals to the program are. The fans in this part of the state are quite aware of what Tonkery can do but several in attendance caught their first glimpse of him and I’ve got a strong feeling it won’t be their last.
That will do it now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!