For about an hour, we were able to lay our eyes on the Mountaineers final tuneup before Saturday’s Fan Fest. The first string and second string team offenses and defenses faced off against each other, alternating possessions.
Doug Middleton started off the scrimmage with a bang with a 50+ yard kickoff return, but the drive unfortunately stalled with a missed 38 yard field goal that was pushed wide right. The Mountaineers had a chance with a 3rd and 1, but a false start on the offense and missed throw by Jamal Jackson to Sean Price killed the drive.
The second string defense clamped down on their counterparts on the next possession forcing a three and out with Michael Frazier providing the only offense on the drive with a five yard run. Kameron Bryant was 0-2 on the drive.
Jackson and the first team offense took over after a 33 yard punt by Sam Martin and a block in the back penalty on the return team drove the offense back to the 29 yard line. This was the best drive by either offense in the first hour of the scrimmage. Rod Chisholm carried four times for 34 yards on the drive that concluded with a 15 yard touchdown run by Chisholm. Andrew Peacock hauled in two passes for 15 yards and Sean Price caught another pass for 16 yards. Jackson drew the defense offsides with a hard count on a 3rd & 4, but Peacock caught a pass for 11 yards on the free play.
The second team offense lost six yards on the following drive, but Sam Martin bailed them out with the first of his 50 yard punts. Paul Magloire was set to return the punt but misplayed the ball that was clearly over his head and he should have let bounce. A block in the back penalty and the ball careening out of bounds after Magloire’s muffed catch, forced the offense back to their seven yard line.
Jackson was sacked on the first play for a 3 yard loss, while walk on freshman Ricky Ferguson ran for 7 yards on second down. On 3rd & 6, Sean Price dropped a ball right at the first down marker.
Doug Middleton was back to receive the punt, and Sam Martin forced another tough run and catch that Middleton couldn’t handle. Martin unleashed another 50+ yard punt that was eventually recovered by the return team.
Kameron Bryant started off the next drive with a seven yard run on a designed QB sweep. Michael Frazier than ran for 14 yards and 1 yard on his next two carries. Bobo Beathard hauled in a pass for 6 yards to give the offense a 3rd & 3. Kameron Bryant took off again on an option play that gained 11 yards, but a holding penalty put the Mountaineers back into a 3rd & 5 situation. Bryant’s third down pass was intercepted by Brandon McGowan. Despite the turnover, the punt team came out and called a rugby style punt. A rugby style punt is used when the kicking team wants to limit the return and the punter runs to his right before punting the ball. It is very useful when you have a short yardage situation on 4th down and the punter can read the defense and may get the green light to run for the first down. Martin was punting from his own 43 yard line and the ball was not returned and rolled to a stop at the 6 yard line to give Martin another 51 yard punt.
The first team offense decided to be conservative with their shadows lingering in the end zone and ran the ball three straight times with Rod Chisolm and lost 2 yards on the drive. Martin punted with a shortened snap, his heels just inbounds in the back if the end zone and managed enough hangtime to force a fair catch at the 45 yard line, booming another 51 yard punt with no return.
The second team offense came out again and Ricky Ferguson took a first down carry for 25 yards down to the 30 yard line. Two consecutive passes to Beathard from Bryant only delivered 2 yards on one completion. However, the defense held Beathard’s facemask long enough to draw a flag that gave the second team the ball at the 14 yard line. Bryant was short on a pass to Malachi Jones on first down and Ferguson ran for 2 yards on second down. On third down, Bryant overthrew Jones in the end zone after scrambling around the pocket for a good two seconds. A thirty yard field goal attempt by Zach Matics was wide right.
On the next drive for Jamal Jackson’s group, Chisholm ran for two yards on first down. Drew Bailey dropped a pass that would have given the Mountaineers a first down. Tony Washington made the catch on third down for 11 yards after a holding penalty negated a much larger gain for the offense. Andrew Peacock hauled in a pass for five yards before Chisholm was stopped again for a four yard loss. Jackson scrambled for five yards on third down but it was not enough for a first down and the starters were forced to punt again. Mark Powell punted from the opponents 42 yard line and forced a fair catch on the 15 yard line.
Bryant and the second teamers took over again and Tysean Holloway broke off a 65 yard run on 2nd & 10 and a horse collar tackle placed the ball on the ten yard line. The second teamers than ran three straight times to get in into the end zone on a Bryant keeper.
On the final drive we witnessed on the afternoon, Sean Price dropped another pass on a first down play while Michael Frazier ran for 5 yards. Jackson was then sacked by Adam Scott for a 5 yard loss. Sam Martin attempted another rugby kick, and while he did not get a lot of air time, the ball rolled long enough to credit him with another 49 yard punt.
So what can we take from this abbreviated scrimmage? Penalties are a concern with the offense being called back twice on first down gains. Running back Stephen Miller was missing. The drops are a concern, but likely, just a bad sample size. Would like to see Rod Chisholm stay inside the tackles more. Several times he was taken down for losses while trying to run east-west and not north-south. Sam Martin is a stud. He had one bad kick, but everything else looked good. With kickoffs being spotted on the 35 yard line, the kick coverage team did their best keeping the returners short of the twenty yard line and kicking the ball right to the goal line. Two different place kickers missing manageable field goals attempts is also a concern.