The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

April 9, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: A little fighting doesn’t hurt

MORGANTOWN — Sunday was the spring day the West Virginia Mountaineers were waiting for since the day spring practice began, the day when they put the drills behind them and held their first true scrimmage.

It lasted 72 plays, time enough to show what they could do and, yes, what they couldn’t do, but at this time of year that isn’t as important as another aspect of what happens when teams scrimmage.

They get to compete.

By nature, football players are among the most combative and competitive of athletes.

That’s why, in reality, the NFL is currently dealing with something it certainly never wanted to deal with, the bounty put on opponents for injuries instigated by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

While that is an outgrowth of the competition, and a deformation of it, at that, it is part of what happens.

You want guys to be battling with each other, mouthing off to each other. In fact, it is commonplace to have a fight or two break out in the midst of scrimmaging, although that is not nearly as dangerous to the welfare of these highly armored gladiators.

“They are competing,” WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen noted after the scrimmage. “If they don’t, then you have problems.”

This manifests itself in many ways, mostly in the attitude that exists when you actually are working on situations, running down and distance with scores and tackles and interceptions.

That means any number of things, but the thing that stands out the most is that Tavon Austin is jawing away at whomever it is on the other side.

“Tavon talks more crap than anyone on this team,” Holgorsen pointed out.

Trash talking is a relatively new facet of sports. Back in the day, you kept your mouth shut and went about your business. Bear Bryant’s greatest teams at Alabama won national championships and as they did so they would actually help opponents whom they had knocked on their fannies to their feet, gave them a pat on the rump.

As a high school football player your devoted servant here once took an elbow to the chin that brought on the stars in the middle of a Saturday afternoon game, only to have the Cyclops of an offensive tackle who had applied the blow come up after the game and apologize for being so rough.

Today, though, you intimidate as much through your words as your actions and Austin intimidates through both, and so it was that he spent much of the day yapping at cornerback Brodrick Jenkins as he tried to keep up with him.

There was a good bit of conversation going on, too, between defender Darwin Cook and wide receiver Stedman Bailey.

And on the line guard Jeff Braun caught Holgorsen’s attention with his spirited approach.

“He is a totally different guy from a year ago,” Holgorsen said, noting that he had a running battle of the words with nose guard Jorge Wright.

No one was going to get in between those two.

“That has to exist if you are going to get better,” Holgorsen said.

A scrimmage such as the one that was held Sunday and two others that are scheduled prior to the spring game serves that purpose.

“Who wins and loses isn’t necessarily the point,” Holgorsen said. “It’s not a competition. It’s done to make yourself and your team better. We are just looking for progress.”

That’s the coaches’ viewpoint.

The players see it differently. They are competing, trying to win, not the game but each individual battle. Jobs depend on it.

Hence, tempers flare from time to time and the coaches understand and accept that.

“Obviously, unless they waste too much time or carry it into the locker room, it’s fine. Then we tell them to quit it, but normally it’s good, wholesome, healthy fun,” Holgorsen said.

The fact of the matter is football practice really isn’t fun. Nothing is that is as repetitive as practice, especially when most of the time your mistakes are being pointed out to you over and over.

But a scrimmage breaks that monotony and brings out the best in everyone.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU depth chart sends messages

    Perhaps the most impressive thing about the depth chart West Virginia University put out at the end of spring practice was that the coaches were able to put out a depth chart, which certainly is an improvement over a year ago when the Mountaineers were really short on quality players.

    April 25, 2014

  • WVU baseball hosts K-State in Big 12 clash

    The West Virginia University baseball team will host Kansas State in a key Big 12 Conference series thisweekend at Hawley Field.
     Game one begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, game two begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday and the first pitch for game three is set for noon on Sunday.

    April 25, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age

    The other day Baylor football coach Art Briles walked into his graduate assistants’ office and had to laugh at what he saw.
    “There’s five guys sitting in there — a couple of GA’s and some office personnel — and they all are within a foot and a half of each other and not a one of them is talking to each other,” Briles said, describing the scene “Every one of them is on the phone.”

    April 24, 2014

  • O’Brien leads WVU baseball past Marshall

    Catcher Cam O’Brien made a bid at becoming only the second West Virginia University player to hit for the cycle as the Mountaineers jumped on Marshall early and routed their in-state rival, 10-3, behind strong pitching from Corey Walter and a pair of relievers.

    April 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- West Liberty’s Crutchfield not interested in Division I

    You would think Jim Crutchfield would be a great candidate for a head basketball coaching job at an NCAA Division I university.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • WVU athletic department to form Fan Experience Committee

    The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is forming a fan experience committee to discuss the needs of Mountaineer fans with the hopes of enhancing the fan experience at its events.

    April 22, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Popovich, now 73, wishes he were playing baseball today

    If you’re a long-time baseball fan, you may recall Morgantown’s Paul Popovich.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos