By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
August 14, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s always nice to have a Noel Devine on your football team. The senior took his third carry 79 yards for a touchdown to lead the offense to a three-touchdown performance during the first officiated scrimmage of fall camp held inside Milan Puskar Stadium earlier today.
Devine finished the afternoon with 99 yards rushing on just four carries.
“Noel was electrifying as he always is,” said coach Bill Stewart. “We got him out of there early. I’ve seen what he can do.”
Shawne Alston scored a 1-yard touchdown with the second offense, and true freshman Trey Johnson displayed some nifty running on a 17-yard score with the third group.
Tyler Bitancurt made field goals of 34, 35 and 38 yards while John Howard added a pair of field goals, including a 48 yarder late in the scrimmage that easily passed the cross bar with 10 yards to spare.
“Kicking was better than 50-50,” said Stewart.
The defense produced a safety when a poor exchange between backup quarterback Barry Brunetti and center John Bassler forced Brunetti to call on the ball in his own end zone.
Junior college transfer Bruce Irvin showed his pass rushing ability, recording two sacks and forcing the offense into committing a false start penalty on another third-and-long play.
“Bruce Irvin is a man out there. He pass rushes, he dents the pocket and he gives tremendous effort,” said Stewart. “I like the way his motor runs.”
Safety Terence Garvin has the hit of the scrimmage when he stood up Ryan Clarke and drove him backwards during Clarke’s first-down run. Backup cornerback Pat Miller also came up and made a nice hit on wide receiver Coley White during a quick pass out in the flat.
Freshman Mike Dorsey also shows his athleticism by deflecting Jeremy Johnson’s option pitch and recovering the fumble at the 23. It looked like he could have easily scooped up the football and scored a touchdown instead of falling on the ball.
“I thought our defense there was some nice plays, one by Mike Dorsey early, a big hit (Terence Garvin on Ryan Clarke), Robert Sands was all over the field and there were some other outstanding efforts,” Stewart noted.
Quarterbacks Geno Smith, Brunetti and Jeremy Johnson combined to complete 16 of 18 passes for 113 yards. Smith completed his first seven passes, including a beautiful 24 yarder to Tavon Austin on third down deep in their own territory. Smith also hooked up with Jock Sanders for a pretty 17-yard gainer across the middle on another third-and-long play to move the chains.
Overall, Smith was 9 of 10 for 61 yards.
“I thought Geno had great pocket presence,” said Stewart. “Geno is a young man that commands that pocket and I thought he did a nice job. He finds the secondary receiver time and again.”
Brunetti completed all four of his pass attempts with the second and third groups, including a 25-yard strike down the far sideline to true freshman Ivan McCartney. McCartney made an athletic play on the ball and tried to stretch to the end zone before being knocked out at the 3.
Stewart said both freshman quarterbacks looked like freshmen this afternoon.
“I saw fumbled snaps, guys going the wrong way; don’t know if we can get in the gun and I don’t know if we can get under center … I don’t know what we would do if something happens to Geno,” he said. “As I said earlier this week: much talent and much confusion.”
Alston got the lion’s share of the work at running back, carrying 11 times for 33 yards - all with the second group.
“We will never play a guy that is hurt but Shawne Alston was hurting out there today and he ran hard,” Stewart said. “These young guys have to pick that stuff up.”
Daquan Hargrett spelled Devine with the ones and finished the scrimmage with two carries for four yards.
Sanders was the afternoon’s top receiver with four catches for 26 yards. Austin finished with a pair of catches for 27 yards.
Nine different ball carriers ran 34 times for 190 yards.
“I’m glad we didn’t play today,” said Stewart. “I just told our football team one thing, ‘Only one team can beat the Mountaineers and they’re on this field today.’ And they won. The team that can beat West Virginia beat West Virginia today on this field … sloppy tackling, not breaking on the ball, not doing backside cutoff blocks, not hustling, drops, exchange snaps … not real pleased with that. The Mountaineers did not play up to standards today.”
The Mountaineers will not take Sunday off and will resume practicing on Monday.
It was extremely hot in the stadium this afternoon with temperatures on the field likely approaching 100 degrees. The first player out on the field for today’s scrimmage was freshman safety Travis Bell. Despite the balmy conditions, several Mountaineer coaches could be seen wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
The first two times Bruce Irvin was in the game during third and long situations he got to quarterback Geno Smith. On his first play Irvin got past right tackle Jeff Braun so quickly that he was almost to Smith at about the same time the ball was snapped to him. Irvin’s second sack was a bull rush when he took his blocker right back into the quarterback. And a third time, Irvin was lined up ready to come off the edge but the offense was called for illegal motion.
Smith’s 24-yard completion to Tavon Austin was a thing of beauty. The sophomore was able to feel the pressure being applied by linebacker Najee Goode, side-stepped him, and flipped a perfect strike to Austin, who was able to gather in the football before toeing the sidelines.
West Virginia’s three quarterbacks completed their first 10 passes with Smith successfully hooking up on his first seven. Smith’s only incomplete pass was a ball he threw out of the end zone trying to hit Sanders on a deep post.
Trey Johnson showed surprising power and balance for a guy who only weighs 172 pounds. He was able to break at least two tackles during his 17-yard touchdown run against the No. 3 defense.
Ivan McCartney’s 25-yard catch down the far sideline when he kept his feet in bounds and extended the ball toward the goal line looked like something you’d see from Miami’s old-school receivers such as Michael Irvin, Lamar Thomas or Andre Johnson.
Barry Brunetti to Ivan McCartney could be called a lot by Milan Puskar Stadium announcer Travis Jones in the coming years.
Backup linebacker Donovan Miles had a big hit on Alston on his second-and-goal run that netted no gain.
Stewart said he was pleased with the offense’s ability to manage the clock during the first scrimmage. “That was very good,” he said. “The only clock management problem we had was when we were backed up on the minus-2 and we weren’t sure if we were going to run another series down there or come out to the 50. That’s why the play was getting in late. It was absolutely flawless by the offense for the first scrimmage.