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West Virginia offense shines in spring game

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Geno Smith completed 26 of 37 passes for 388 yards and four touchdowns, and backup Paul Millard added another 253 through the air with two TDs to lead the Gold to seven touchdowns during Friday night’s Gold-Blue spring football game before an estimated crowd of 22,000 at Milan Puskar Stadium.

“I really liked the way we competed, first of all,” said West Virginia coach Bill Stewart. “The guys played hard, there was some good, sharp hitting and it was a penalty-free game for the most part, which is really important.”

Smith threw touchdown passes of 44 and 67 yards to Stedman Bailey, a 38-yarder to Tavon Austin and a 3-yard TD pass to Tyler Urban. Millard hooked up with Trey Johnson for a 65-yard scored and also added a 47-yard strike to Bailey, who finished the scrimmage with six catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns.

“Stedman has been a guy that has consistently gotten better since day one,” said offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. “We had him out of position for about seven practices and once we moved him outside he looked more comfortable out there and the relationship with Geno that dates back to seventh grade.

“There are four other guys Geno is feeling pretty comfortable with – I think he’s feeling pretty comfortable with Tavon Austin and he feels pretty good about Tyler Urban,” said Holgorsen. “Shoot, we’ve been looking for about four more guys to step up and one guy who did really well tonight was Ryan Nehlen.”

Nehlen, named this year’s Nickolich Award winner as the top walk-on player of the spring, caught five passes for 79 yards to cap off an outstanding spring.

Millard, a January enrollee, finished the evening 18 of 30 while also throwing the only interception of the scrimmage to Keith Tandy.

Johnson scored the lone rushing touchdown tonight, a 2-yard run in the second quarter, and freshman Vernard Roberts led all ball carriers with 64 yards rushing on 10 carries. Johnson added 57 yards on nine totes.

Twelve different players caught passes with six hauling in at least five; J.D. Woods led all receivers with eight receptions.

The offense rolled up 838 yards - 683 of those coming through the air - with a lot of that coming against the second defense. There were 104 total plays in tonight’s scrimmage with 70 of those being pass attempts.

Tyler Bitancurt converted one of his two field goal tries, hitting a 27-yarder and missing from 43 yards; Corey Smith missed his only field goal attempt from 32 yards.

Starting left guard Josh Jenkins was injured when he got rolled up on and had to be transported off the field in a golf cart.

Defensively, tackle Julian Miller was credited with two sacks and four total tackles, while Will Clarke and Bruce Irvin each added a tackle for a loss.

Read more on WVU sports.

Neil Walker’s contract expires after the 2016 season. The Pirates second baseman is due for a big raise in arbitration this offseason, likely to $10 million.
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