West Virginia (publicly) avoiding naming starters

MORGANTOWN — Dana Holgorsen is pulling the card of a wily veteran late in camp as West Virginia approaches the first game week in preparation of Tennessee.

The eighth-year head coach knows better than to publicly say who has emerged in camp and latched onto starting spots throughout the Mountaineers offense and defense.

“I’ve made decisions and position coaches have made decisions, but I’m not going to tell you guys, and we’re probably not going to tell them in fairness of wanting to continue to create as much competition as we possibly can,” Holgorsen said. “I think that’s the best approach with our football team, and my job is to get the best players out there and to get them as good as we can possibly get them. I’m just not prepared to talk about that at this point.”

Holgorsen said he won’t release a depth chart until the week of the Tennessee game Sept. 1.

The coaching staff will meet and evaluate who starts, but depth will be crucial to keeping guys fresh.

“That’s an ongoing conversation and our guys understand that tust because you start, it doesn’t mean you’re playing 100 percent of the time,” Holgorsen said. “I want our guys to continue to fight hard to try to gain as much playing time as they can. That’s their job.”

Defensively, coordinator Tony Gibson has two spots up for grabs — cornerback and along the defensive line.

On the line, grad transfers Jabril Robinson and Kenny Bigelow have tried to overtake Reese Donahue and Darius Stills at end and nose.

At corner, only two will be on the field at once, but Gibson considers Derrek Pitts, Hakeem Bailey and Josh Norwood starters in their own right.

“We still have battles going on,” Gibson said. “This week will tell a lot. We’re still going to be able to do some good-on-good, and then, start working some Tennessee stuff. We still haven’t determined those two spots yet. Other than that, we’re pretty close to having our top 22.”

Will Grier is locked in as the starting quarterback, while the top four receivers are set. Coordinator Jake Spavital believes about “90 to 95 percent” of the offensive battles are decided.

After Jacob Buccigrossi pulled ahead of Matt Jones at center a couple weeks ago, Jones had a good scrimmage last week and the two are now even, per offensive line coach Joe Wickline.

At right guard, juco transfer Michael Brown has a slight edge over Isaiah Hardy.

Spavital said the running backs are still fighting for snaps, though Kennedy McKoy, Martell Pettaway, Alec Sinkfield and Leddie Brown all will play.

At backup quarterback, Miami transfer Jack Allison has impressed in camp while true freshman Trey Lowe acclimates.

“I think Jack Allison has pretty much taken over that right now,” Spavital said. “I feel confident with these kids. I think the beauty of the redshirt rule, right now, is we can just keep Trey Lowe, give him some quality reps and get to the point where we can throw him in the game and see what he’s capable of in live situations versus other opponents.”

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