WVU football: Scout-teamers, young players get more reps
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Though he's never been through a season without a bowl game or the additional practices, West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen is trying to find a way to make up for what was lost in Saturday's defeat to Kansas.
The Mountaineers are off this week and finish their season at home against Iowa State Nov. 30. Holgorsen is using this week to do what he would have done between the regular season finale and a bowl game.
"We've got a lot of guys whose primary responsibilities right now are being on the scout team and redshirting because they're not ready to play or they're too young," Holgorsen said. "We'll take those guys and practice them (today), Wednesday and Thursday and we'll give them a lot of reps because we're going to lose some of that time in December."
If they had qualified for a 12th consecutive bowl game, the Mountaineers (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) would play the Cyclones (1-9, 0-7) and be off the following weekend before finding out their postseason destination and opponent Dec. 8. Final exams start this year on Dec. 11. The players would have been off that week and returned to practice Dec. 19 before breaking again a few days for Christmas and then meeting at the site of the bowl.
West Virginia could have practiced the week before its bowl assignment, in between exams and the holiday break, and again at the bowl site. A few of those practices would have been reserved for bowl game preparations, while the rest would have been devoted to young, barely used and scout-team players.
"Losing the time that we're not going to have to rep them in December is unfortunate," Holgorsen said. "But really, when you look at it, it's only five or six practices we're losing. We'll try to make that up here this week and play a lot of ball."
The Mountaineers are redshirting 10 true freshmen, but also have 50 players in their freshman and sophomore classes, though many start or play and will be off this week. Holgorsen has also redshirted a bunch of walk-ons to control and monitor their development.
"All those guys who haven't played a lot of snaps need to practice a good bit," Holgorsen said. "We'll try to get those guys developed as much as possible on the field."
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WVU'S REGULAR PLAYERS will have a much lighter workload this week, especially the ones who have played a lot this season. Holgorsen rattled off names that needed rest, though only ones on defense and probably no one more in need than senior safety Darwin Cook.
Cook was hurt twice against Kansas, first when he hit tight end Jimmay Mundine to break up a pass and later when he chased James Sims at the end of a 62-yard gain. Cook, who had barely missed any snaps this season, was out for the final two-plus quarters.
"He broke down," Holgorsen said.
Holgorsen said Cook is out this week and wouldn't play if the game were Saturday, and that he and similarly busy safety Karl Joseph needs time off, too.
"Both of those kids play hard," Holgorsen said. "They play with a lot of effort and they leave it all on the field. Darwin's groin got him. We're a little beat up and then he goes out in the (second) quarter and we didn't have him for the whole game.
Cornerback Daryl Worley aggravated a shin injury that cost him a game earlier this season and was replaced by Travis Bell. He'd been a starter this season before Worley took his spot. Cook was harder to replace, but Holgorsen was pleased by the result.
"Depth is obviously not where we want to be," he said. "We need snaps. We need depth. When guys play 92 snaps a game at the level that Karl plays at, it's going to catch up to them. It's going to catch up to Darwin, and it did.
"When you lose him and put (redshirt) Jarrod Harper in there, it's a different level. But Jarrod went in there and got good, quality snaps. He played at a high level. He played well, and he's going to be a good player for us. You have to take advantage of that."
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WVU WILL BE OUT on the road recruiting Thursday, Friday and Saturday as part of the evaluation period. Coaches will be watching games, obtaining high school transcripts and talking to players.
The Mountaineers only have 12 seniors on scholarship and already have 15 players committed to the 2014 class. That's because WVU has room to work with and can finally reach the limit of 85 scholarships. Holgorsen couldn't get close with his first three recruiting classes.
"The first one was three-quarters done before I got here, and done in the Big East," he said. "The second one was half selling the Big East and the second half we could start talking about the Big 12 for the first time. Last year was 100 percent talking about the Big 12.
"And this year, if we meet our quota of 25, then we're over our scholarship limit. That is the first time that's ever happened."
Holgorsen acknowledged he'll likely lose players currently on the roster, which means he can over-sign during this class and use the extra players to fill expected openings.
"You don't want to lose guys but the fact of the matter is that if guys don't go to class, or if they fail out or if they don't do the right things socially and get kicked out, that happens when you're dealing with 100 kids," he said. "More than likely we're going to lose a couple for a variety of reasons. But I'm comfortable with us being able to go out and get to 25 because we're three-quarters of the way there right now."