As expected, WVU defense has a field day in spring finale

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The spring football season came to a close Saturday at West Virginia with about 8,000 fans getting a peek at what they might have known already: This team has a long way to go.

The Mountaineers are breaking in two new quarterbacks and trying to find eight new starters on offense, which translated into a 41-33 win for the defense at the Gold-Blue spring game at Milan Puskar Stadium using a scoring system that gave the defense points for various stops.

The defense was ahead, 19-0, after a quarter, sacked the quarterbacks six times total, intercepted a pass and broke up four more.

"I've said this all spring. We've got a long ways to go," said coach Dana Holgorsen, who spent most of the game in the backfield behind the quarterbacks. "The team that we field in September is going to look a lot different. ... A lot needs to happen in the next three-and-a-half months going into August camp."

The scoring system awarded the defense six points for a touchdown, five points for a three-and-out and three points for a drive stop, fumble recovery or interception.

The quarterbacks alternated every two possessions.

Paul Millard, who served as Geno Smith's backup for two years, finished with better statistics, completing 16 of 27 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman Ford Childress completed 14 of 21 for 169 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Childress got the offense on the board first when he threw a 65-yard touchdown to Jordan Thompson with 7:36 to play in the second quarter to make it 19-7.

He was intercepted in the first quarter by Travis Bell, who recently moved to corner from safety.

"For the most part, we took care of the ball," said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. "We had one pick, an underthrown ball. Was the right read, the right throw, just have to get the ball out there. Going into it, that was a main emphasis."

Dawson said the team planned to run mostly pass plays and not rely on running the ball in order to put the quarterbacks under some pressure. The two combined for 354 passing yards.

Neither got high marks for their timing in the pocket.

"We're over-thinking things as far as [check downs]. And you've got to have a clock in your head as a quarterback," Dawson said. "We're giving up sacks we shouldn't give up. ... To give up sacks sitting in the pocket for four seconds, five seconds, if that's what they're going to do then neither one of them can play.

"You got to have an internal clock in your head. You've got to speed up your body and you've got to get rid of the ball. Taking sacks gets you beat."

Thompson caught two more touchdowns -- a 10-yard pass from Millard in the second quarter and a 24-yard pass, also from Millard.

Running back Dustin Garrison looked strong, rushing for 51 yards on seven carries, with a long of 19.

Junior-college transfer Kevin White had the play of the game with 4:21 left in the third quarter. White caught a screen pass and broke free for a 46-yard touchdown to help the offense creep closer into the game.

"Those are my favorite," said Millard. "When you throw a little screen I feel like anybody could do and they run for about 40. It's a good thing he's on our team."

Running back Andrew Buie (hamstring) was in sweatpants for the game but will be "fine" according to Holgorsen. Linebacker Isaiah Bruce did not play with an undisclosed injury and offensive lineman Pat Eger (ankle) also sat out.

"After 14 practices and going 75 plays of live football, you want it to resemble football," Holgorsen said. "I think it resembled football, not high-level football. At least it looked like football."

wvusports


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