Spring game is Saturday

With so many questions lingering following last year’s less-than-expected 7-6 mark, West Virginia University’s football program closes out its third spring under coach Dana Holgorsen at 2 p.m. Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.

However, if you are planning on attending in order to discover the answers to those questions, you might want to keep one very important fact in mind – college coaches never use the final practice of the spring to show to the public what they intend to do during the fall.

What you can expect to see is an offensive attack that features the running talents of returnees Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison as well as newcomer Dreamius Smith.

Yes, there will be some passing, but only one of his three quarterbacks has any actual game experience and with a receiving corps that will be minus Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods, it is hard to believe that fans will see anything that will resemble what they witnessed in last year’s Gold/Blue game.

What fans likely will see is a controlled scrimmage dominated by the defense. A defense that was rated among the worst in the country last season, but one that returns several starters that have, hopefully, improved since WVU’s embarrassing loss to Syracuse in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

Free safety Karl Joseph is a definite force to be reckoned with, while the front three of Will Clarke, Shaq Rowell and Kyle Rose should have a better upcoming season.

The questions will again revolve around the Mountaineers’ corps of linebackers and corner backs. Dozie Ezemma, Isaiah Bruce, Nick Kwiatkoski, Bridgeport’s West Tonkery, Garrett Hope, Doug Rigg, Jared Barber, Hodari Christian and Tyler Anderson will all see plenty of action at the Buck, Sam, Will and Spur positions.

Brodrick Jenkins, Nana Kyeremeh, Ricky Rumph, Brandon Napoleon and Ishmael Banks are just a few of the names that will be attempting to lock down one of the starting slots at the border and field cornerback positions.

Locally, former Parkersburg South standout Michael Molinari will look to end the spring as the team’s No. 1 holder and punter while continuing to battle newcomer Josh Lambert for the placekicking and kickoff duties.

But, this is the spring, so just how much ‘live’ action fans will see from the special teams units will be left up to the coaching staff and the norm has been to utilize these squads only in a ‘controlled’ manner.

What will come out of Saturday’s final spring practice is knowledge.

The key to any success WVU might have in 2013 will center around how the players and coaches use what they learn from Saturday’s scrimmage.

Properly used, Holgorsen and his staff will be able to develop a plan for the upcoming preseason that will allow them to concentrate on the areas of weaknesses exposed during the spring while building on the strengths that were developed during those 15 practices.

Failure to accomplish those feats may result in a repeat of the 2012 campaign.