By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
After spending about eight weeks in conditioning and strength workouts, West Virginia University will kick off 15 days of spring football practices on Sunday.
The Mountaineers were put through rigorous post-season workouts, in the first of five phases. And now coach Dana Holgorsen says “our players are extremely motivated at this point. Mike Joseph and his staff have been doing a good job with them.
“Obviously, the way we ended the 2012 season, losing a lot of our star power, we’ve got a bunch of hungry kids that are anxious to prove themselves.”
This will be Holgorsen’s third year as a head coach, all at WVU, in the wake of a disappointing 7-6 record – and losing to Syracuse in a bowl – last fall. His team finished 10-3 in 2011.
Holgorsen said his players are doing a good job academically in the classrooms and that academic tutors and advisors are motivating a late push.
“Our assistant coaches spend a lot of time with our group,” the head man continued. “We didn’t take much time off after (recruit) signing day.
“We’ve spent a lot of time, especially with the new guys, talking about things both on and off the field. We want to learn what makes these guys tick.”
Holgorsen, who has lost three of his assistants to other schools during the off-season, is also without three of the all-time great players. Quarterback Geno Smith, a record-setter, and four-way scorer Tavon Austin graduated and junior Stedman Bailey made himself available for the National Football League draft this year.
Some 20 other seniors graduated or no longer have any eligibility left.
Spring practice sessions are scheduled for Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday each of the first two weeks. Then the practice days will be Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the final three weeks.
The annual Gold-Blue game winds up spring practice and is set for Saturday, April 20. But the starting time has yet to be determined.
That intrasquad contest is open to the public. Cost is $10 each person. Part of the proceeds go to WVU Children’s Hospital.
Holgorsen has the most stringent spring practice policy for the media than any of his predecessors.
He permits the first 30 minutes of 10 practice days, and then the writers and broadcasters need to return after practice to interview the head coach or assistants or players when scheduled for interviews on certain days.
So interested reporters don’t get to see the Mountaineers scrimmage at all until the fans do on April 20 when they’re revealing very little.
All practice sessions will be staged in Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium; weather permitting.