WVU Spring Game: Defense Dominates

MORGANTOWN – This was the anti-Orange Bowl.

The defense (Blue), under new coordinator Joe DeForest, dominated the offense (Gold), 43-34, in the annual Gold-Blue Game on Saturday evening at Mountaineer Field in front of a spotty crowd that was chased away by a daylong rain.

To put the score in perspective, the offense won last year’s game, 83-17.

”The trend lately has been the defense getting after the offense for about the last five practices,” West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said. ”I would say the first 10 (practices), offensively we did some good things, but the last five the defense has been doing a lot better.”

The offensive scoring system was consistent with a regular game. The defense was awarded six points for a touchdown; five for a three-and-out; and three each for a drive stop, fumble recovery, and interception.

To that end, the defense came up with three picks – one each by Matt Moro, Brodrick Jenkins, and Will Clarke – and a fumble recovery (Avery Williams). It also had seven drive stops and a pair of three-and-outs.

On offense, Geno Smith completed 23 of 29 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns (2 yards to Stedman Bailey and 5 to Jordan Thompson). Backup Paul Millard was 26 of 35 for 253 yards and one TD (14 yards to Dante Campbell), which, oddly enough, took place three plays after the time ran out on the scrimmage.

Shawne Alston, the game’s leading rusher with 52 yards on 11 carries, added a 1-yard scoring run and Tyler Bitancurt hit field goals of 36 and 37 yards.

”From an offensive perspective, (we) made some plays, but (we) turned the ball over,” Holgorsen said. ”From a defensive perspective, we gave some plays, but we got some turnovers. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, this is going to be a good football team.”

Now for a few sobering thoughts on the whole thing, first from former Steubenville standout Shaq Petteway, who played with the first-team defense at linebacker and had two tackles.

”About 75 percent of it is knowing what was going to happen,” Petteway said of playing against the same offense for 15 straight spring practices. ”The thing with us is just getting lined up against our offense because they tempo us so much. It’s the simplest thing, but it’s one of the hardest things against our offense.”

And here’s what Holgorsen had to say about an offense that saw true freshman Jordan Thompson lead with eight catches for 66 yards. Next was redshirt freshman Vince Colainni with seven catches for 63 yards.

”We’re playing a whole bunch of people who aren’t going to be playing in the fall,” Holgorsen said. ”There’s guys in there that if we’re playing with them, we’re not going to win.”

Still, with DeForest installing a new defense and the offense a year ahead, it was probably good for the Blue team to steal some headlines.

”I think the kids did a great job from Day 1 to Day 15,” DeForest said. ”I thought they bought into the system, bought into the coaching staff. I felt very comfortable (after the scrimmage). They played hard and they played fast. That’s something that’s good to see as a coaching staff that they finally understand it.”


  • Defensive end Tyler Anderson, a redshirt junior form Morgantown, was named the winner of the 2012 Tom Nickolich Memorial Award, which is awarded to a walk-on who has distinguished himself through his attitude and work ethic.
  • Because of the rain, the annual old-timer’s game was not played.
  • Asked to name those who opened eyes in the spring, Holgorsen mentioned WR Thompson, SS Karl Joseph, DB Sean Walters, IR Campbell, and WR K.J. Myers.