New West Virginia University QB Austin Kendall Looks Sharp in Gold-Blue Game
Oklahoma Transfer Leads WVU Offense To Two Touchdowns
MORGANTOWN — Austin Kendall led the Gold team to a pair of touchdowns and a field goal during Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game played inside Milan Puskar Stadium.
The official statistics crew credited the Oklahoma transfer with five completions in eight attempts for 109 yards, one going for a 60-yard touchdown to T.J. Simmons in the first quarter during this afternoon’s 96-play, split-squad scrimmage.
Kendall also had a 39-yard hookup to sophomore Sam James down the near sideline that resulted in Casey Legg’s 24-yard field goal, and the junior finished another Gold touchdown drive by scoring from the 1.
Lowe III directed the final Gold score of the afternoon when he completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to freshman Dillon Spalding on the last play of the scrimmage.
“Fun day,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “It was a typically spring game. There was some good things and obviously things we need to get corrected before we play James Madison.”
Lowe was credited with six completions on his 11 pass attempts for 96 yards, one of those going for 40 yards to James when the sophomore made an athletic, over-the-shoulder grab while he was falling out of bounds.
Jack Allison, quarterbacking the Blue squad, completed 11 of 24 passes for 112 yards, including a 16-yard scoring strike to freshman Randy Fields late in the second quarter.
Neither team had much success running the football. The Gold was credited with 81 yards on 32 attempts with Leddie Brown going for a scrimmage-best 34 yards. His long gainer was 13 yards.
The Gold team ended the scrimmage with minus-17 yards on 17 attempts.
“We just didn’t block well in the run game,” Brown said.
James led all receivers with four catches for a scrimmage-best 85 yards.
Defensively, Keith Washington Jr. and Jordan Adams picked off passes for the Gold while the Blue was led by Derrek Pitts Jr. and VanDarius Cowan with four tackles each.
Stone Wolfley had three tackles and was credited with a pair of sacks for the Gold.
Sunny skies and warmer-than-usual temperatures approaching 70 degrees made for an enjoyable afternoon, resulting in a bigger-than usual spring-game crowd that filled up the entire lower level and a good portion of the upper level on the press box side of the stadium.
Saturday’s attendance was listed at 18,865 — the third-largest for a Gold-Blue Spring Game. The spring-game record was 22,000 that showed up for a Friday night scrimmage in 2011.
∫ The quarterbacks did not have different-colored, no-contact jerseys but they were not tackled during today’s scrimmage. They did have a white strip on their helmets, which is used by the coaching staff during film study to determine where they were looking during pass plays.
∫ Twice, Kendall tried deep passes down the near sideline to James, one resulting in a 15-yard pass interference penalty called on Hakeem Bailey and the other a 39-yard gainer to the Blue 8. The drive stalled at the 7 leading to a Casey Legg 31-yard field goal.
∫ Later, Trey Lowe III hooked up with James for a 40-yard gainer to the Blue 23 early in the third quarter, and Kendall completed the drive with a 1-yard keeper for the Gold’s second touchdown of the scrimmage.
∫ Ricky Johns appeared to make a nice sliding catch along the near sideline on a deep pass thrown from Allison but Johns was ruled out of bounds by the official in front of him.
∫ Cornerback Josh Norwood made an exceptional open-field tackle on Brown coming out of the backfield on a third-down pass play.
∫ A busted coverage resulted in the first touchdown of the scrimmage when Kendall hit a wide-open Simmons for a 60-yard touchdown. The only player close to Simmons running free in the middle of the field was Pitts Jr.
Legg missed the conversion kick.
∫ Tevin Bush made a nice over-the-middle catch for 21 yards to the Gold 10 before taking a big hit by Gold safety Kenny Robinson Jr.
∫ A missed assignment on third and goal from the 16 resulted in the Blue team’s first touchdown when Allison fired a pretty strike to Fields. The trailing defender was EJ Brown.
∫ Martell Pettaway showed his improving ball skills with a pretty one-handed catch of a Lowe pass for an 8-yard gainer and a first down coming out of the backfield.
∫ Washington Jr. and Adams recorded first-half interceptions. Washington’s came when Lowe tried to force a pass into coverage from across his body that Washington stepped in front of, while Adams picked off Allison’s up-for-grabs deep pass down the middle of the field late in the first half.
Adams was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for celebrating his interception.
∫ On several occasions, Kendall displayed his elusiveness in the pocket by evading on-coming rushers to buy additional time to look for open receivers down field.
∫ Brown said West Virginia’s frequent down-field passes today were by design.
∫ West Virginia’s new uniforms for 2019 were unveiled on the video board at the halftime and the players walked onto the field to model them.
Spoiler alert: they are very similar to what we’ve seen in the past with the exception of the numerals, which are much easier to read. There is an alternate gray uniform, modeled by former Mountaineera standouts Karl Joseph and Rasheed Marshall.
“These are clean, I wished I could have played in them,” Joseph said.
Joseph wore a gray jersey and gray pants with a blue helmet, while Marshall wore a gray jersey and blue pants with a blue helmet.
There will now be four different jerseys that will make up 48 different possible uniform combinations.
∫ The Gold-Blue Spring game was a true gold and blue affair. The Gold team wore blue helmets, gold jerseys and gold pants while the Blue team wore the traditional West Virginia, Don Nehlen look – blue helmets, blue jerseys and gold pants.
∫ Josh Chandler, Reese Donahue, Colton McKivitz and Alec Sinkfield were recognized as Iron Mountaineers for their work in WVU’s offseason strength and conditioning program. The recipients are tested in a number of different areas grouped by position and are selected by Mike Joseph’s strength and conditioning staff.
∫ Jake Abbott, a redshirt sophomore linebacker from Fairmont, was named this year’s winner of the Tommy Nickolich Award, presented to the team’s most outstanding walk-on player this spring. The Fairmont Senior High product is beginning his third year in the Mountaineer program.
The Tommy Nickolich Award has been presented each year since 1991 by the Blue and Gold News.