MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU football has completed nine of its 15 spring practices.
As the spring wages on, head coach Neal Brown provided an update Thursday on his team’s progress, highlighting a few key performers.
Here are our biggest takeaways from Brown’s most recent press conference:
A few of the standouts
Brown praised a handful of players on offense and defense for their efforts in recent practices.
On defense, linebacker Lee Kpogba has been a standout. The head coach said he has been “sharp” throughout the spring.
“Lee Kpogba has made some strides,” Brown said.
Kpogba is preparing for his second season at WVU. He began his career at Syracuse, and then transferred to East Mississippi Community College, before signing with the Mountaineers.
Last season, he started in all 12 games and became an All-Big 12 honorable mention while leading the roster in total tackles with 92.
The expectation for Kpogba is to be even better next fall.
“Year two for a junior college player, you all have heard me say that — I think that’s been true here in the past, even before we were here — year two is when guys make a big jump, and you’re starting to see some of that.”
Brown also complemented the play of Ja’Shaun Poke, a senior who can play wide receiver and could help the Mountaineers in the return game.
The Kent State transfer’s speed makes him stand out.
“He looked fast,” Brown said of Poke’s performance during Thursday’s practice.
Poke missed the first half of the 2022 season due to an injury, but when he did suit up for the Golden Flashes, he impacted games both as a return man and through creative usage on offense.
“Today, [there were] some glimpses of what I think he can be,” Brown said. “He got vertical quickly in the return game, he caught some passes. We were able to throw him some screens, and he broke some tackles. He’s here for a short time, so we’ve got to get something out of him.”
Brown noted that Poke has also been hampered by injuries this spring, but practiced Tuesday and Thursday.
The highs and lows of the QB competition
Quarterbacks Garrett Greene and Nicco Marchiol have split reps throughout the spring. They’ve been inconsistent in their performances, according to Brown.
During scrimmage action Thursday, Brown noted that both quarterbacks made big plays with their arms and legs, but each also made mistakes, including turnovers, sacks and a grounding penalty.
Still, Brown remains enthusiastic about the team’s quarterback competition.
“Their really good stuff is really good,” Brown said. “We’re trying to put them in situations where, if they screw up, at least they’re learning.”
Brown reiterated Thursday that he expects Greene and Marchiol to continue competing for the starting job through fall camp.
Five practices remain for WVU between now and the spring game, which will serve as the 15th and final practice.
The team will get a break over Easter weekend. Players will return Monday for meetings, and then resume practicing Tuesday.
The Gold-Blue Game is set for Saturday, April 22 at Milan Puskar Stadium. The scrimmage will begin at 1 p.m.