Allison Earning The Trust Of WVU’s Coaches
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Jack Allison, a transfer from Miami, has grabbed hold of the backup quarterback job to Will Grier … but whether that means he is the man to replace Grier next season still remains to be seen.
Allison won the confidence of offensive coordinator Jake Spavital and coach Dana Holgorsen in the spring and has only moved forward since. Freshman QB Trey Lowe also brings a lot of skill to the table as well and will probably not only work on learning the ins and outs of college quarterbacking but earn some playing time under the new redshirt rule.
That rule, adopted by the NCAA this summer, allows a college football player to participate in up to four games this season without losing his redshirt year. Rest assured WVU would like to get Lowe some seasoning to not only aid his progress but to make him game ready… just in case.
That just in case has become a yearly thing around Morgantown in the fall with quarterbacks like Grier busting up his hand last year, Ford Childress suffering a season-ending pectoral tear in 2013, Clint Trickett going down with a career-ending concussion in 2014 and even going back to Adam Bednarik’s leg injury in 2005 that swung open the door for Pat White to take over.
“I thought Jack’s consistency last spring was up and down,” Spavital said earlier in camp. “He’s put together some early practices so far that have been pretty impressive. Obviously, he’s got arm strength, but his decisionmaking and his understanding of the offense … he’s put in a lot of work over the summer to the point where he’s comfortable with what we’re doing.
“I’m really pleased with Jack, but he’s got to continue that consistency for me to be real comfortable with him.”
At the latest session, Spavital admitted he has seen improvement in Allison.
“We’re all pleased with Jack and how he’s handling the communication and operational side of things, and that was a concern in the spring,” Spavital said Saturday. “He’s one snap away from playing, and he’s turned into a guy I feel pretty comfortable with.”
At 6-foot-6, Allison is tall. He has also added weight since coming in skinner than they would have hoped, and is now up to 212 pounds.
“He’s got a live arm and can make all the throws,” Spavital said. “You guys are going to enjoy watching him air it out.”
Lowe, too, has a lot working for him, including enough athleticism to also have baseball on his mind, being a member of the WVU baseball team as well.
“If you’ve got a lot of opportunities for that then Trey gets in the game or if he takes over the (backup) job then he could definitely go in,” Spavital said. “If we believe Jack is going to be better than that, then we need to put the quarterback in that needs those reps in case something does happen to Will. Wherever we’re at and whatever quarterback we think is in that position is how I will approach it right now.”
So there is battle within the battle, not only for this year’s backup quarterback but potentially for next year’s starter.
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Billy Kinney has come back from an injury to reclaim the punting job and is probably the only man in camp hoping he doesn’t have to play often with the offense WVU expects to have.
But you never know, so they practice hard and have to be careful.
“A lot of problems with specialists are that we use our legs all the time, every day for practice. We really need to recover, take care of our legs and make sure that we’re not kicking too much, because they can go dead on you, and they lose a lot of their power,” Kinney explained.
It’s an uncertain science on how to protect the kicking leg.
“There’s not a specific count for how many times you should kick. It’s more of feeling based on how you’re feeling that day,” Kinney explained.
“It depends on what you did the day before. You’ll take that into account when you move on to the next day. You take from what you did the day before. If you’re sore that day, then you’ll cut back on it.”
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If Kinney or placekicker Evan Staley need some time off, they could be picked up from an unexpected source — 320-pound starting offensive guard Josh Sills.
“In high school, I handled all the kicking, punted, extra points, kicked off, too,” revealed Sills, now of the dual-colored mullet. “To me, it was normal.”
To others, not so much.
“You line up to kickoff in a game and you have an official walk up to look at you kind of funny and say ‘You are the biggest kicker I ever saw,'” Sills laughed.
Sills says he could still handle it.
“I still do it, just to have some fun. I’ve punted since I was in the third grade,” he said. “I think I could surprise a few people.”
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Interestingly, Lowe isn’t WVU football’s only baseball player. Tight end Jesse Beal already put in virtually a full career as a minor league pitcher before coming back to college at 28 to play football.
And, make no doubt, there is very little the same in the two sports, as tight end/ coach fullback coach Dan Gerberry noted.
“Being a professional athlete in baseball is different than football. In football there’s the hours of weight lifting and conditioning. Baseball — I love it — but they stand a lot. It requires a different type of physical ability.
“We are in a sport that is physical,” added Gerberry. “It puts lot of strain on your body, and it puts a lot of strain on your mind. You have to do different things than baseball.”
You hit little round balls instead of people.