Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Crook gets closer to setting o-line rotations

West Virginia is two days away from opening the season against No. 2 Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (3:30 p.m., ABC), but offensive line coach Ron Crook is still coming up with a plan for the Georgia Dome.

Crook, set to begin his second season with the Mountaineers, has known his five starters since the end of spring practice, but hasn’t figured out what to do with his backups.

“I’m hoping we can get there before we leave,” Crook said. “I’m hoping (today) I can sit down and be able to say, ‘Here’s my plan. Here’s how we’re going to do it.’ ”

Crook will start sophomore Adam Pankey and junior Marquis Lucas at left and right tackle. Lucas has started four times in his career, each at guard, and Pankey has never started and only played seven games. Quinton Spain (26 starts) and Mark Glowinski (12 starts) will start at left and right guard and Tyler Orlosky (11 games, three starts) will start at center.

On a list of five backups only Mike Calicchio, a fifth-year senior recently put on scholarship, has ever played in a game. The backup tackle was part of the shield in front of the punter on the punt team in all 12 games last season and played a handful of snaps on the offensive line. Backup tackle Marcel Lazard, backup guards Stone Underwood and Grant Lingafelter and backup center Tony Matteo have never played — though Underwood redshirted his freshman season at Southeastern Louisiana in 2011 and started 12 games as the center in 2012 at Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College.

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Crook gets closer to setting o-line rotations.

Charleston Daily Mail | Mike Casazza: WVU’s Bradley has seen plenty of Saban

There are reasons Tom Bradley was so important for so long at Penn State and why athletic directors tried to get him to leave Happy Valley and take over his own program. There are reasons he sent so many players to the NFL and won so many awards for coaching.

And, of course, there are reasons West Virginia tried like it did to hire Bradley this past offseason. He is a resource on and off the field, a recruiter in western Pennsylvania, a developer on the defensive line and an encyclopedia of experiences.

Nobody in the Puskar Center knows Alabama coach Nick Saban quite like Bradley. Dana Holgorsen and the eight other assistants have never prepared for a Saban team. Bradley has done it seven times before.

“And I hated it,” he said with a laugh that lets you know just what awaits West Virginia on Saturday in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The 3:30 p.m. game against the nation’s No. 2-ranked team will be televised by ABC.

via Charleston Daily Mail | Mike Casazza: WVU’s Bradley has seen plenty of Saban.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Alabama LB DePriest to sit out WVU game

Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest will sit out the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide’s season opener Saturday versus West Virginia due to what coach Nick Saban called a “minor NCAA infraction.”

“This is a one-game deal,” Saban said, noting DePriest will be available for Alabama’s game versus Florida Atlantic.

A senior and a preseason all-SEC pick by both the coaches and writers, DePriest started 26 games for the Crimson Tide over the past two seasons, he was third on the team last season in both total tackles (65) and tackles for a loss (7.5).

Saban said that sophomore Reuben Foster and junior Reggie Ragland would fill in for DePriest. The two combined for 29 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, last season.

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Alabama LB DePriest to sit out WVU game.

The Charleston Gazette | WVU’s Worley tasked with covering Tide’s Cooper

On an Alabama team chock full of potential All-Americas — there are no less than eight on Phil Steele’s preseason first and second teams — perhaps the best of the lot is junior wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Sure, it’s an arguable point. Safety Landon Collins is on everyone’s all-star list. The running back corps is so good that junior T.J. Yeldon is ahead of sophomore Derrick Henry only because Yeldon chose to stick around for another season instead of going to the NFL.

The receiving corps is so deep that three could be All-Americas — O.J. Howard as a tight end and Christion Jones as a returner/receiver, in addition to Cooper. And get this: Linebacker Trey DePriest is on Steele’s All-America second team, but is listed as an “or’’ on the Alabama depth chart with sophomore Reuben Foster.

Cooper, though, is special. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he was a 1,000-yard receiver as a true freshman and would have been again as a sophomore but for a toe injury that slowed him half the season. But it goes beyond that.

Just ask Daryl Worley.

via The Charleston Gazette | WVU’s Worley tasked with covering Tide’s Cooper.

The Charleston Gazette | Dave Hickman: Alabama’s easy to figure, harder to stop

For most rookies in a new job, there’s usually a feeling-out period.

Think about it. First day at work, the boss doesn’t generally give you the toughest assignment possible. Oh, sure, there are exceptions. Who knows, your job might be one of them.

Just like Tony Gibson’s.

No, Saturday isn’t technically Gibson’s first day as West Virginia’s defensive coordinator. He’s been in the office for a while, found out where the pencil sharpener and the water cooler is, met everyone he’ll depend upon to do his job. Shoot, he’s even spent the better part of six months finding their strengths and weaknesses and attempting to either utilize or cover them up.

Bottom line, though, what Gibson was hired to do is help make a difference a dozen or so days of the year. And the first of those days is Saturday.

via The Charleston Gazette | Dave Hickman: Alabama’s easy to figure, harder to stop.

United Bank Playbook – Alabama Preview – WVU Athletics

Ready or not, here comes the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The 2014 season is upon us with West Virginia meeting the nation’s No. 2-ranked football team at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic this Saturday, August 30.

It’s the first time the Mountaineers will be facing a team of this caliber to open a season since 1998 when West Virginia lifted the lid against top-ranked Ohio State in Morgantown.

“I don’t really need to say much about our opponent, as far as what they’ve accomplished over the last few years,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “We’re pretty excited to be in this situation to be able to play a game of this magnitude.”

via United Bank Playbook – Alabama Preview – WVU Athletics.

WATCH: WVU Player Interviews

Watch full video interviews with West Virginia players as they look forward to this weekend's season kickoff game in Atlanta against Alabama.

via WATCH: WVU Player Interviews – WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News – Mountaineer Sports.

WV MetroNews – Manchin always roots for his pal Saban, except this week

Those unsubstantiated reports from 2007, the ones alleging Nick Saban’s agent contacted West Virginia about the vacancy Rich Rodriguez left behind, they didn’t seem farfetched to Joe Manchin.

“It might have been me at the time trying to lure him back,” the U.S. Senator joked Wednesday.

Manchin, a friend of the Saban family since childhood, was serving as governor back then. And despite a desire to see his pal coaching the Mountaineers, Manchin thought the real obstacle dated back to 1968 and the program’s reluctance to recruit the all-state Saban out of Monogah High School.

“I think one of the bigger mistakes WVU made was not giving Nick a scholarship,” said Manchin, who was recruited by WVU four years earlier. “Nick Saban was one of the most exceptional young athletes and young scholars to come out of North Central West Virginia. I’ve always thought if he was a WVU alum …”

via WV MetroNews – Manchin always roots for his pal Saban, except this week.

WV MetroNews – NAPA Auto Parts Gold & Blue Now: Aug. 28

In this edition of the NAPA Auto Parts Gold and Blue Now, senior quarterback Clint Trickett understands the challenge behind the Alabama’s defense.

Also, senior running back Dreamuis Smith seems not to care whether who has been named the starter, just the one has the ‘hot hand.’

via WV MetroNews – NAPA Auto Parts Gold & Blue Now: Aug. 28.

West Virginia AD Luck wants improvement

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck pronounced his football program in “good shape” even though the Mountaineers went 4-8 and lost six of their last seven Big 12 games in 2013. They are picked to finish eighth in the 10-team conference this season.

“I think we've improved our quality,” Luck said. “We've got a bunch of guys who gained experience last year. I think the kids are excited. I think we've got a great group of coaches, I really do. What I need to see and what I want to see, and I certainly think it's shared by our fan base, is improvement.”

There is much to improve upon. The four wins were the fewest since 2001. WVU went 2-7 in the Big 12 and lost to Kansas, the Jayhawks' only conference victory. The defense finished near the bottom of several statistical categories. The offense sputtered.

Entering his fourth season, coach Dana Holgorsen has been mentioned on several “hot seat” lists of endangered coaches. Asked if he would cast a vote of confidence, Luck responded, “I'll stick with (what) I've said the last couple of months. We want to see improvement. I'll leave it at that.”

via West Virginia AD Luck wants improvement | TribLIVE.

WVU football: Many first-game tests face new, dueling coordinators

Tony Gibson hardly could have asked for a more difficult debut as West Virginia’s defensive coordinator. The Mountaineers’ opponent Saturday in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta is No. 2 Alabama, winner of three of the past five national championships.

As if it weren’t a tall enough task already, the Crimson Tide has yet to name a starting quarterback — speedy Blake Sims or pocket-passer Jacob Coker — and the man across the way, Lane Kiffin, is making his debut as Alabama’s offensive coordinator 11 months after being unceremoniously ousted as Southern California’s head coach.

Preparation has been a logistical nightmare for the West Virginia defensive staff, which has split its time between USC and Alabama game film and is trying to scout two quarterbacks with different styles who never have started a game.

West Virginia senior associate head coach Tom Bradley expects it to be “a balancing act.”

via WVU football: Many first-game tests face new, dueling coordinators – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Keys to West Virginia’s 2014 season

When ESPN’s Brett McMurphy polled every power-five conference football coach earlier this month asking for a one-word description of his team, the response he got from West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was “experienced.”

On the surface, it’s a sensible reply. The Mountaineers return 34 players — 17 on each side of the line of scrimmage — who have a combined 250 career starts.

The thing is, it hasn’t all been quality experience. West Virginia went 7-5 in 2012, its first year in the Big 12 Conference, and managed just four wins in 2013, missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2001.

Holgorsen insists it’s a “night and day” difference from last year to this one and, despite the Mountaineers’ gauntlet of a schedule, there is plenty of reason for optimism.

via Keys to West Virginia’s 2014 season – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Holgorsen has shown ability to adapt, grow as Mountaineers’ coach

Brian Mitchell has gotten to know Dana Holgorsen at two different times in his coaching career. The first version was the one most have come to recognize and expect.

It was 2006 and Mitchell, who today is West Virginia’s cornerbacks coach, was hired to do the same at Texas Tech. That put him opposite Holgorsen every day because Holgorsen was the inside receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator under coach Mike Leach. The Red Raiders would finish the season ranked No. 3 in passing offense and No. 6 in total offense and Mitchell saw Holgorsen as someone consumed by moving the ball and scoring points.

Holgorsen did both well enough to set out on his own. After three years as the co-coordinator with current Cal coach Sonny Dykes, Holgorsen headed to the University of Houston for two seasons starting in 2008. Mitchell would be named East Carolina’s defensive coordinator in 2010. Holgorsen hired Mitchell last season and Mitchell got to know the second Holgorsen, the one not many understand or accept on the eve of his fourth season.

“A big part of being a head coach is growth and development, and being a head coach for the first time, there is no manual for it. A lot of it is just osmosis through day-to-day interactions,” Mitchell said. “But I think Dana has grown tremendously. He focused solely on the offensive side at Texas Tech, but now he sees it as a whole.

“I noticed that my first day on the job here and I was just very impressed by the way he’d learned to carry the staff meetings, how he directed the team, the input he impressed upon the team.”

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Holgorsen has shown ability to adapt, grow as Mountaineers’ coach.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Alabama still uncertain about starting quarterback

No one has to tell West Virginia about the misery of not knowing who will start at quarterback, but the Mountaineers are about to agonize over preparations for an opponent that hasn’t named its starter.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday he hasn’t decided who will start Saturday’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and he wouldn’t commit to playing both junior Blake Sims and transfer Jacob Coker against WVU. They’re listed together on Alabama’s depth chart, something Saban doesn’t put much stock into, but Saban did say Sims, who is regarded as a more capable runner than the more traditional Coker, has a specific advantage in what’s been an even competition.

“Blake has a lot more familiarity with the system having been here longer,” Saban said. “I think he’s more comfortable doing the things we do, and he’s done a really good job. He’s played really, really well all camp and has played well in the scrimmages. The team has had a good rhythm when he’s in at quarterback.

“Jacob, obviously, is the newer guy of the two and doesn’t have the same knowledge or experience. We’re just trying to get him more and more familiar so we can play with the rhythm we play with offensively. It’s about confidence.”

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Alabama still uncertain about starting quarterback.

The Charleston Gazette | Saban recalls days as Mountaineers fan

Nick Saban has mostly fond memories of growing up in West Virginia and talked about them in general during his weekly press conference Monday.

Then again, call it a subconscious glitch perhaps, but when the Alabama coach got down to specifics, it wasn’t a great moment in Mountaineer sports he recalled. It was a heartbreaking one.

“I remember listening to my little brown transistor radio when Darrall Imhoff hit a jump shot to end the game in [1959] to win 71-70 in the national championship game,’’ Saban said, referring to WVU’s loss to Imhoff and California that year in the NCAA basketball tournament finals. “You don’t forget stuff like that.’’

Saban, of course, will attempt to provide West Virginia with another bad moment this week. Now the ultra-successful coach at Alabama, his No. 2 Crimson Tide and West Virginia open the season Saturday at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Alabama is a nearly four-touchdown favorite.

via The Charleston Gazette | Saban recalls days as Mountaineers fan.

The Charleston Gazette | Hickman: Loss of Banks significant blow

Let’s face it, things could have been a whole lot better on the Ishmael Banks front where West Virginia’s defense is concerned.

Of course, they could have been a whole lot worse, too, so there’s that.

When Dana Holgorsen let it be known that Banks won’t be in uniform for West Virginia’s opener against Alabama Saturday — as well as the two games that follow — it was a significant blow. Say what you will about the Mountaineers needing to find better cover cornerbacks than they’ve had the past two years, but tossing out of the mix a guy who started all 12 games a year ago probably isn’t where you want to start.

That’s exactly where West Virginia will, though.

“Icky has been reinstated to the team,’’ Holgorsen said Monday. “He was dealing with some academic issues that had to get sent to the NCAA, and the NCAA came back with the ruling that he’ll be suspended for the non-conference schedule. So for the first three games he’ll be suspended and then reinstated.

via The Charleston Gazette | Hickman: Loss of Banks significant blow.

Pirates’ GM Talks Morgantown Baseball – WVU Athletics

It’s not every day a major league general manager is in town, but that was the case on Monday afternoon when Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington was here for the announcement that New York-Penn League baseball is coming to Morgantown.

Huntington said the Pittsburgh Pirates are thrilled to now be a part of the Morgantown community.

“To play in a first-class facility and the (Pirates owner Ogden) Nutting relationship with WVU going all the way back years, our relationship with (Jamestown Jammers ownership group) the Rich Family going back years, our personal relationships going back years, it’s just a tremendous opportunity.”

Morgantown will now be the starting point for many aspiring Pittsburgh Pirates.

via Pirates' GM Talks Morgantown Baseball – WVU Athletics.

Rich Baseball is Coming to Morgantown – WVU Athletics

Most professional sports team owners who come into a new town are handed a hat of the local team to wear.

Not Robert E. Rich, Jr., chairman of multi-billion-dollar Rich Products Corporation and chairman of Rich Baseball, who says he simply prefers to be called Bob. He has his own tattered blue West Virginia University ball cap with the gold Flying WV that he estimates is probably 10 years old – or the amount of time since Pat White and Steve Slaton were tearing up the Georgia Dome turf during the 2006 Nokia Sugar Bowl.

“That was my team,” Rich said. “I loved that team.”

Rich has also fallen in love with West Virginia. He now has a summer home in White Sulphur Springs.

via Rich Baseball is Coming to Morgantown – WVU Athletics.

WVU Cool, Calm and Collected Prior to Showdown with Alabama

Hats off to WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen, his coaching staff and players – when asked during fall camp about the program's monumental season opener on August 30, the team has kept quiet about the Alabama Crimson Tide; at least publicly anyway.

But one thing that cannot be kept quiet is the magnitude of the 2014 season opener. The Mountaineers are preparing for potentially the program's biggest regular season matchup in school history. Alabama begins the year as the No. 2 team in the nation and offers a flurry of obstacles, however none of which that seem to woo over the WVU players to the point of concern.

Nonetheless, preparing for an opponent that has become a modern-day college football empire must cause some sort of concern. But judging off Holgorsen's press conferences during fall camp, one would come away with zero understanding as to how he's actually feeling prior to the nationally-televised showdown.

via WVU Cool, Calm and Collected Prior to Showdown with Alabama – WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News – Mountaineer Sports.

West Virginia notebook: Alabama coach Nick Saban yet to name starting QB

Few jobs in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are subject to such supreme levels of scrutiny as the starting quarterback of the Alabama football team. Maybe that's why Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has yet to name his starter five days before No. 2 Alabama and West Virginia kick off the 2014 season in Atlanta.

Three-year starter AJ McCarron left the nest this spring with a championship ring and a 36-4 record to his name, and the search for his successor has been whittled down to senior Blake Sims and junior Jacob Coker.

Saban said Monday he has "no plans" to rotate the quarterbacks throughout the game but then made a quick call to his bullpen of cross-sport analogies.

"That doesn't mean that whatever pitcher starts the game is necessarily going to pitch nine innings," Saban said. "When [Yankees manager] Joe Girardi tells [Masahiro] Tanaka he's starting a game, he's not telling him he's going to pitch nine innings. Does he tell him that, or does he just pitch until he doesn't pitch well anymore?"

via West Virginia notebook: Alabama coach Nick Saban yet to name starting QB – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.