West Virginia's Holgorsen looks to fill holes

| Friday, Aug. 26, 2011

Coaches love competition among players in preseason camp. Some competitions at West Virginia have been so good that they're not done yet.

"We'd like a lot of position battles, so we encourage them," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said Thursday. "The more, the better."

With West Virginia's season opener against Marshall looming Sept. 4, the Mountaineers are using the upcoming week to settle their depth chart, especially on offense.

"This week is the hardest point of the year," Holgorsen said. "You have to figure out how it all works. I feel good about where we are."

The biggest battle left to be determined is at running back, or the A-back in Holgorsen's offense. Freshmen Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and Vernard Roberts and sophomore Trey Johnson are vying for the starting job.

Holgorsen said running backs coach Robert Gillespie's pecking order changes daily. It's hard to know how the freshmen will respond in a meaningful game, but West Virginia plans to use all four this season.

Buie seems to have the inside track. The 5-foot-9, 191-pound speedster from Jacksonville, Fla., continues to impress the coaching staff with his ability to make plays and be a home run threat. But Garrison and Roberts have turned some heads as well.

The fullback, or B-back, also is unsettled. Senior Ricky Kovatch and juniors Matt Lindamood and Ryan Clarke are competing for time. Holgorsen said Clarke holds a slight lead.

With the offense West Virginia is expected to produce, based on Holgorsen's track record, there should be enough opportunities to go around.

"All seven of those guys are going to play," Holgorsen said. "I have never been anywhere that seven running backs are going to play. It is our job to continue to narrow down when we are going to play certain guys and how much we keep them in there.

"Whoever the 'starter' is going to be will mean more to that guy than it does to us. We know that they are all going to play."

The battle at right tackle also appears to be far from over. Redshirt sophomore Pat Eger, a Thomas Jefferson graduate, holds the edge over redshirt freshman Quinton Spain after moving ahead of him during the second week of camp. However, neither has been impressive — Holgorsen said the competition is going "terrible" after last Saturday's scrimmage.

Otherwise, West Virginia is trying to develop depth everywhere else.

"Those second-team guys can play like that," Holgorsen said, snapping his fingers.

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