Recapping spring football and the 2022 Gold-Blue Game – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The 15th and final practice of the spring period is in the books.
The spring practice calendar wrapped up with the playing of the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday.
For the first time since the end of the 2021 season, fans got to see the Mountaineers in action, and in-person.
The Gold Team picked up a 22-21 win. Here are head coach Neal Brown’s biggest takeaways from the final practice of the spring.
Morgantown kids showing out
Preston Fox continues to make catches.
Fox, who was a walk-on player out of Morgantown High, has had an excellent spring by all accounts.
His head coach said that he catches everything that comes his way earlier this spring.
For his efforts, Fox was awarded with a scholarship following the game.
“He earned that scholarship,” Brown said.
Fox showed the out in the Spring Game by making multiple stellar catches.
“I think those are some of the best moments. His parents came in the locker room,” said Brown. “He’s been super productive. The next steps for him is doing it versus the top guys. But really pleased with him.”
Another former Morgantown Mohigan that exited Milan Puskar Stadium with something special in hand was offensive lineman Nick Malone.
At halftime, Malone was awarded the Tommy Nickolich Memorial Award, which is given out each season to the top walk-on in the program.
The head coach said it wasn’t just this spring that earned him that honor.
“He’s done extremely well in the classroom, he’s worked, he’s been absolutely no issue, and he’s grown into a player,” said Brown. “So, that was an award that over the course the last three years that he’s really earned.”
The redshirt junior played in all 13 games last year, and earned one start.
“What he’s done, is he’s really worked on his body over the last three years,” Brown said. “He put himself in position where, right now, we feel like he could be a quality backup.”
Each of the top three quarterbacks on the roster saw snaps for both the Gold and Blue teams during the Spring Game.
“I thought all three quarterback operated,” said Brown, who added that all three could’ve been sharper. “I thought we operated pretty well today.”
Will “Goose” Crowder threw the most passes, completing a combined 14 of 24 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown, according to the post-game stats.
“That’s the best day that he’s had all spring, which is encouraging” Brown said. “In a game-like atmosphere, that was his best day.”
Meanwhile, Garrett Green threw the ball less often. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 132 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Green, known for his athleticism, did not have a true rush in the game.
“I thought Garrett, he had a bad interception where he didn’t do a good job with the safety there. But he made some plays with his feet,” Brown said. “I thought he showed some accuracy on the intermediate throws.”
True freshman quarterback Nicco Marchiol performed in front of fans at Milan Puskar Stadium for the first time on Saturday.
Marchiol completed 10 of 19 passes for 75 yards. He also rushed four times for 11 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown for the Blue team in the second quarter.
“I thought Nicco had some flash points,” the head coach said. “I’ve said this probably more than anything, but he’s got really good ability. But he’s a high school senior. you know what I mean? And he’s going to be a lot better at fall camp.”
Other players stepping up
Brown said that multiple players that needed to perform well in the game did just that.
“I thought some of the younger D-Lineman, Taurus Simmons, I thought he did a nice job today,” said Brown. “At the bandit position, Jared [Bartlett] and Lanell [Carr] each probably, if we’re playing a real game, they probably get a couple more sacks. And I’m proud of the growth that those two guys have had.”
Offensively, both skill position, and non-skill-position players stood out.
I think the receivers were real productive, and we feel good about those guys,” said Brown. “I think a couple of those second-group O-Linemen, I thought Jordan White was good today. I think that was a positive step for him.
Heading to the summer
Saturday marked the final structured practice for the Mountaineers for a while.
Players will finish out the semester, and then won’t fully reconvene as a team until the summer.
“We’ve got one week of classes left. And we’ll do some things this week to finish up the semester,” said Brown. “And then they get about three weeks off. Not all of them, some of them will be here. A good percentage of them will get three, I guess four [weeks off].”
Summer work will go quickly, and then fall camp will begin.
“I think the summer is going be really key for us,” said Brown.
The head coach said they will add some players over the summer, either through walk-ons or through scholarships.
“I feel good about where we are offensively as we hit the summer,” said Brown. “Do we have more work to do? Yes. Do we need more depth? Yes. … We’ll continue to put an emphasis on [the] run game and explosive plays.”