OK, I can breathe a little.
My bracket of integrity (the one everything is riding on) has steadied. All that’s left is for Tennessee to stun the world and claim an NCAA men’s championship. (Yes, I really picked the Vols.)
For now, though, the storm that is March Madness has calmed. Which gave me a chance to sort through my emails. And within that mess were a couple of transcriptions from WVU’s latest football press day.
Although no longer on the Mountaineer beat (I urge you to look around the website of my new place of employment, by the way), I still like to play a little game I call “Reading Between The Lines.”
You know of what I write. Whether you follow sports or politics, we are tasked with trying to find the meat, the information, buried within the words.
And I found a few nuggets in the WVU transcriptions, kindly typed out by the fine folks at the Mountaineer sports communications office.
First, it seems new WVU coach Neal Brown is having to be patient during this spring camp.
“I think we have to do a better job preparing for practices,” he said. “We have to do a better job as coaches, getting them ready and the players have to do a better job on their own of getting ready.”
Later, he said “a lot of times, even with veteran teams, the first day you put them in pads, especially in the spring, sometimes it is sloppy, so it takes a little bit getting used to.”
You get the drift. The man is trying to be nice. It appears the Mountaineers have a long way to go.
There are, however, a few players Brown seems pleased with. He’s mentioned them multiple times this camp.
“I thought (redshirt senior offensive tackle Colton) McKivitz (stood out),” he said. “He and (redshirt junior guard Josh) Sills. I’m excited about both of those guys from a leadership standpoint as well. Defensively, (sophomore linebacker) Josh Chandler is a guy that has stood out.”
Brown also mentioned junior safeties Derrek Pitts and Kenny Robinson, but the aforementioned trio seems to have pleased the head coach the most.
Of course, most WVU fans are looking for news about the quarterback position. After Jack Allison’s less-than-spectacular showing in the Camping World Bowl, many expected Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall, a former four-star recruit, to immediately seize the starting job.
Yet Brown’s words haven’t been glowing there either. (“Some of it was because we were moving receivers around, but we weren’t as good as we needed to be at quarterback today,” said the coach.)
Perhaps more about the position was gleaned from a transcript from receiver T.J. Simmons.
“As far as being different from last year, Jack (Allison), he’s a tall guy,” said Simmons. “It’s easy to see him behind the line. Austin (Kendall), he gets the ball out pretty quick. He’s not as tall, so you can’t really see him. You have to expect the ball whenever it’s coming.”
If you’re wondering, Allison is listed at 6-6 by WVU, while Kendall is listed at 6-2. Now, do I expect Kendall to ultimately win the job? Sure. I mean, how many times have you seen high-profile quarterbacks transfer and NOT win the job? Keep this in mind though: Both were rated as four-star QBs coming out of high school. Allison was offered by Alabama, among many others. And if you follow this blog you know I haven’t given up on the Miami transfer.
Oh, and finally, we can apparently go ahead and call WVU’s new defense a 4-2 alignment. Because senior Reese Donahue does.
“We’re going from an odd stack to a 4-2,” Donahue said. “That’s a big deal, but our defense now is really versatile. We can play anything. There’s not a thing on the field we can’t do.”
Follow Wheelhouse Creative at @Our_Wheelhouse and Mitch at @MitchVingle on Twitter. Also, check out the “Off the Record” live show at Generations in Wheeling this Thursday at 7 p.m. Our guests will be ex-WVU and current W.Va. Roughriders’ player Noel Devine and team coach Mook Zimmerman.