MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen said the Mountaineers will start trimming down the playing roster for the upcoming football season in the coming week, saying the players will have the first week of school to prove they belong on the field.
"We don't want to go into a real game week having to (practice) three people at each position; you can't do it," Holgorsen said. "I don't mind (practicing) three at each position next week. But within a week, we have to narrow it down to who will play."
West Virginia's coaches are still looking "about 15 guys" on the defensive line, including several newcomers. Holgorsen said about 12 defensive linemen will probably play, but he hopes to trim that down even further to eight.
"If we're playing 12, that means nobody has established themselves," Holgorsen said. "We don't have to narrow it down at this point, but we're going to have to start narrowing it down next week."
Other than returning starters Will Clarke and Jorge Wright, the playing experience on that defensive front is minimal. J.B. Lageman and Shad Rowell saw only limited time.
"We're talking about five freshmen," Holgorsen said. "You mix in the freshmen with a bunch of guys who haven't played, and you just try to find out the next group of guys."
Holgorsen said Jordan Thompson, J.D.Woods, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have solified their spots as staring receivers. The coach said he is still evaluating the other receivers to determine how much playing time they will receive.
"You have to narrow it down to the guys you feel good about playing, and then practicing to where you can see guys separate themselves," he said.
Quarterback Geno Smith missed some practice sessions this week, traveling home to Florida because of the passing of his grandmother. Holgorsen said he expects Smith to return by the time classes start on Monday.