Tall Brings Emotion, Experience to WVU Staff

Mountaineer defensive assistant Bruce Tall is off and running druing his first spring session at West Virginia, and he's already established several trademarks in his new position.

Watch Tall for a few minutes on the practice field, and you'll see that he isn't the type to sit back and observe his charges. During drills, Tall is right in the mix with his players, exhorting, encouraging and cajoling them reach the "standard of excellence" that he has set for them.

"I like to be emotional during practice, but I also want to be consistent, Tall said this weekend. "I want to be a teacher on the field, not a yeller or screamer. But because the game is such an enthusiastic game, I get excited.

"I have high expectations for my players so I will drive them to get the most out of them. What I feel the players need is what I will give them."

One of Tall's main goals is one that head coach Rich Rodriguez has also been emphasizing this spring, and that is finishing drills with the same effort they are begun with.

For instance, one defensive drill has the Mountaineer linebackers and defensive backs reading backfield action, pursuing the play, then grabbinb a turnover and sprinting all the way back to the end zone. Players that ease up the last few yards or don't sprint to their proper locations, draw immediate attention from Tall. He believes that correcting any such problems in the spring will carry over into on-field performance in the fall.

"How you finish is the most important thing, and it all starts with drill work," Tall noted with an intense edge in his voice. "You have to stress it and you have to coach it on every single play, so guys understand how important it is." Tall brings a wealth of experience to the West Virginia coaching staff, but his reassignment to coach the Mountaineer spurs and bandits led to some concerns. Tall has primarily been a defensive front coach during his career, so there were questions as to how he would handle the WVU up safety positions.

Fortunately for WVU, Tall has both experience as a defensive coordinator, which gives him knowledge of overall defensive schemes, and also specific experience with positions similar to those he's taken over at West Virginia.

"I've run an eight man front before, so our spur and bandit is very similar to the outside guys [in the eight man front]. We just called them a different name," Tall explained. "The rules and schemes were the same. I've also coached a bandit position when I ran a 4-3 scheme, so I've done a lot of the things we're doing with the bandit here. It's good to get back into the flow of that."

Tall's charges are a youthful bunch, so he's being careful not to overload them with too uch during the spring. The goal is to have them ready by the end of August, not the end of April.

"You have to know where you are in the stages of teaching," Tall said. "You've got to teach first and then motivate, and as they learn you've got to demand. It's a progression to get your players to the level you want them to get to."

As part of that process, Tall has set individual goals for each player at the spur and bandit positions, and has them working each day to improve on those items.

"I've asked each player to identify three areas that they need to work on on a daily basis. They have those posted on their lockers. We talk about a standard of excellence, and we work every day to get better."

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