MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The offense scored four touchdowns and two field goals and the defense produced four turnovers during West Virginia’s Gold-Blue spring football game on Saturday evening at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Stedman Bailey scored a two-yard touchdown reception on the opening drive of the scrimmage and Shawne Alston added a one-yard TD run on the second drive, but after that, the defense was able slow down the offense for the most part.
Late in the scrimmage, freshman Jordan Thompson caught a five-yard touchdown pass and freshman Dante Campbell concluded the scoring with a 14-yard TD catch.
“Turnovers are a combination of a good defense and a bad offense,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “We didn’t take care of the ball, and we made some mistakes. You can’t force things. You’ve got to have guys making plays and making a move on the ball. I saw both of those, which is good for this point of the season.”
"This spring has been great," said Matt Moro, one of three different defensive players to record interceptions. "Coach DeForest has simplified the defense for us, and he just keeps saying that as long as I listen to him and the coaches that we will just be a great defense overall. I don’t ever look at it as being an individual but as a unit, and our defense has continued to improve. We are going to be great as a team not only a defense but also on offense."
West Virginia quarterbacks were sacked five times, although the whistle blew before the quarterbacks could be taken to the ground. Geno Smith completed 23 of 29 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns with the first group, while backup Paul Millard completed 26 of 35 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown. Millard threw two interceptions and Smith threw one.
"I thought it was a quick scrimmage to be honest with you – the quickest one since I’ve been here," said offensive guard Jeff Braun. "I was impressed with how the No. 2 offense moved the ball. They showed glimpses this spring, and at times they were struggling. I was pleased to see what drives they could put together. With the first guys ? being out there and playing physical ? I think we did that today. We just have to improve from here."
Alston led all ball carriers with 52 yards on 11 carries while Thompson led all receivers with eight catches for 66 yards. Terrence Gourdine had three catches for 118 yards, including a scrimmage-long 82 yard reception in the fourth quarter.
“We were able to answer a few questions on some of the guys,” said Holgorsen. “To sum it up, we’re about 33 percent into how we’re going to look before we play the first game. Our depth is not very good right now, but that will change after we’re able to evaluate everyone. From where we’re at, we’ve got a long ways to go.
“From an offensive perspective, we made some plays, but we turned the ball over. From a defensive perspective, we gave up some plays, but we got some turnovers,” said Holgorsen.
Holgorsen said the defense performing well has been the trend in recent scrimmages and that was again the case on Saturday in the spring game.
“The first 10 practices, we did good things offensively, but in the last five or six practices the defense has been doing a lot better,” Holgorsen said. “I’ve seen the defense dominating the offense because they go against each other every day. They know our calls, they know our checks, but we don’t use that as an excuse at all. There are a lot of low?scoring football games when it comes to the spring.”
Holgorsen admitted that many of the players that were on the field tonight likely won’t be on the field when regular season play begins this fall.
“That’s the point of spring – you play everybody,” he said. “Offensively, there’s a collection of about 16 people that are actually going to play in a game. We haven’t figured out who those guys are, but once we do, we’ll be pretty good offensively.”