The helmets are on and the sun is out (sort of): fall camp has officially kicked off in Morgantown.
The 130th team in West Virginia football history has officially begun its 2022 preseason with a 1-hour, 40-minute practice on Monday morning. Donning just helmets, the Mountaineers started from square one after a busy offseason of OTAs and workouts.
After the practice’s end, WVU head coach Neal Brown took the podium to give a preliminary update on his team. Here are some of the most important things Brown said today:
Maximizing reps on day one
Players can’t get into much actual “football” when they’re wearing just helmets, but the first day of camp was a success for getting back in the swing of things.
Brown said that today’s roster is officially the 2022 WVU football team. While that sounds obvious, usually he is able to make that declaration as early as the spring, or even in January. But even at the end of the spring season, he said that he was open to his players about the fact that there would be new players on the roster come fall camp.
110 Mountaineers showed up to practice today, and all are vying for a spot on the depth chart on Sept. 1. In keeping with that theme, the Mountaineers “two-timed” today’s practice.
“We have the same drill going on on two fields, so everybody that’s out there, all 110, got reps today,” Brown said.
There was some good and some bad on day one, but Brown said that the addition of summer OTAs brought a lot of positives to the team this year. Those summer sessions allowed the staff to install some of the offense and clean up some fundamentals, then when the staff left, the players led their own practices to keep it alive.
It was clear to Brown that those OTAs helped
“From a retention standpoint on offense, everybody with maybe the exception of…some of our new walk-ons that were here, we knew what to do,” Brown said. “Now, we have to get better as far as our reactions off playing against somebody…but I thought our retention was really good, and same thing defensively.”
Quick QB update
Just like the rest of the team, “some good and some bad.”
Will “Goose” Crowder missed the first day of practice with an illness, so Matt Cavallaro took his reps, but Nicco Marchiol, Garrett Greene and JT Daniels all took reps today.
Brown lauded all of his quarterbacks for their offseason work. They all got quality reps during OTAs and continued to throw even when the staff wasn’t around, which is ultimately beneficial, but he said it can lead to some bad habits that would be prevented if coaches were watching.
“That’s probably where we’re at,” Brown said. “We were a little bit late on some balls today, and so we’ve got to get the ball out, but overall I thought they knew what to do. Our timing wasn’t exactly what it needed to be, but I thought we operated well at that position.”
All three of the guys at practice took the same amount of reps.
Charting this year’s camp
Fall camp is all about building up to the high level of Power Five football. It begins with the players donning just helmets, then eventually builds up to full-speed practices, with some one and two-day breaks built into the schedule.
“This is a little bit of a grind. We start school on August 17, which I think is actually a good thing because it makes you as a staff not overdo it because you have to go into your 20-hour rule,” Brown said.
Since the season begins on a Thursday, WVU will hold its scrimmages on Thursdays through Aug. 18. Then it will hold a mock “game week” before its mock game on Aug. 25 — also a Thursday.
“We’re not preparing for everybody,” Brown said. “We’re preparing for Pitt.”