West Virginia still learning new offense
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has spent the past three weeks looking through a microscope, viewing the Mountaineers new offense one slide at a time.
He got his first glimpse of the big picture Saturday. And he liked what he saw.
After three weeks of learning the new offense little by little, Smith and the Mountaineers put it all together in the first full scrimmage of the spring season at Mountaineer Field.
The findings: The Mountaineers have come a long way.
"Our communication is still getting better, but I think we're picking up more and more as the practices go on," Smith said. "This was the first time we got a chance to put it all together, and I feel like we did a pretty good job."
Smith was 7 of 13 against the Mountaineers top defense Saturday, leading the first-team offense in seven possessions.
"Geno had a good, sound day, and that was pleasing for us to see," coach Bill Stewart said.
Behind Smith, the first-team offense scored two touchdowns -- both rushing scores -- and the second-team offense scored the other touchdown of the day. West Virginia's first-team offense did not commit a turnover, making Smith a happy man on a sloppy and slippery Saturday.
"The weather didn't really help us out," Smith said. "We just have to look at it as a positive and keep getting better."
The offense devoted a lot of the scrimmage toward its running game, and Stewart was particularly pleased with Shawne Alston and Trey Johnson, who each scored touchdowns.
Stewart also credited running backs Matt Lindamood, Ricky Kovatch and Ryan Clarke for their blocking -- an important aspect of the Mountaineers retooled offense. And he praised Norwin graduate and wide receiver Tyler Urban, who hauled in two passes, one for a touchdown and another for a 19-yard gain.
The defense forced two turnovers and hurried Smith and backups Paul Millard and Brian Athey throughout the scrimmage.
"It was very back and forth, which is good to see on day nine," Stewart said.
His biggest complaints: penalties and special teams. Without any crowd noise, the Mountaineers had a few false start and offsides penalties. An offensive holding penalty negated a nifty run by Johnson late in the practice.
The Mountaineers kicking unit had a few kicks blocked before the start of the scrimmage, which Stewart attributed to poor defensive blocking.
Defensive back Keith Tandy said the defense could improve its consistency.
"We started off good, but then we didn't finish," he said. "That's something we've got to correct."
West Virginia has two more weeks of spring football before culminating in the Blue and Gold game April 30 at Mountaineer Field. The Mountaineers are scheduled to have another scrimmage next week.
Overall, Stewart said he is pleased with his team's progress.
"I'm pleased to tell you I left a happy guy today," Stewart said. "Are we sloppy? You bet. Did we make mistakes? You bet. Did we put the ball on the ground? You bet. We also made some plays. I saw us competing, running and tackling."
First Published April 17, 2011 12:00 am