Spring Practice Notebook: Day 14

West Virginia's final tune-up before its spring practice comes to an end with the Gold-Blue game on Friday night was an intense affair, as coaches tried to reinforce the messages they have been teaching for the last several weeks, and players tried to give those coaches something positive to remember heading into summer.

After weeks of horrific weather, the Mountaineers again got a beautiful morning to greet them for Wednesday's drills, as temperatures hovered in the high 60s to low 70s and bright sunshine was barely interrupted by cloud cover.

The heat and the intensity of drills had many players asking for water bottles as they came to the sidelines.

WVU offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen may have broken a sweat from shaking his head in disappointment so often though, as he continued to find issues with many areas of play.

  • The last two times Holgorsen has been made available for interviews, he has been asked the exact same question: "Have you seen any more consistency from J.D. Woods?"

    On both occasions, his answer has been the same: "No." There has been no further elaboration.

    One play early in 11-on-11 drills Wednesday showed why Holgorsen has had so little to say about the wide receiver.

    Woods appeared to have broken free of the defense, as no cornerback or safety was within earshot of him. But there was apparently some miscommunication between the receiver and quarterback Geno Smith, as the resulting throw sailed over Woods' outstretched arm and fell incomplete.

    Holgorsen apparently put the blame on Woods, immediately turning in his direction and asking him, "Why would you run a comeback [route] against a Cover Two [defense]? Run the [designed] route, and you would have scored."

  • That wasn't the only reason for frustration from Holgorsen.

    On one play, running back Trey Johnson lined up on the wrong side of Smith. A few snaps later, there was apparent miscommunication between backup signal-caller Paul Millard and receiver Coley White, as what appeared to be a hot read for Millard (who was under heavy pressure at the time of his throw) was nowhere near White.

    Later, Millard continued to draw fire from Holgorsen. First, under pressure again, he tossed a short screen pass that was caught, but the receiver was quickly bottled up and dropped for a loss of yardage.

    "Good," Holgorsen said sarcastically to Millard. "That's the way to throw it and lose six yards."

    The offense with Millard at the controls also had some issues getting lined up properly in a fashion that was quick enough to suit Holgorsen, and the offensive coordinator blamed Millard for being too quiet in his calls to the receivers for that.

  • Still, not all was bad for Holgorsen and his offense. West Virginia's coach-in-waiting has continuously praised fullbacks Matt Lindamood and Ricky Kovatch for their work this spring, and it was easy to see why on Wednesday.

    Though neither player touched the football, both were nearly perfect in executing their blocking assignments. On at least three occasions, Lindamood found either a defensive lineman or linebacker and used excellent fundamental techniques to make a jarring initial hit and push pass-rushers backwards.

    Kovatch got in the act as well, hitting reserve defensive lineman J.B. Lageman hard enough at one point to draw a bit of frustrated extra-curricular activity from Lageman. That pleased running backs coach Robert Gillespie, who yelled out, "I love it! Piss him off, Ricky."

  • Receiver Willie Millhouse has made plays all spring long, but most of them have been with the second-string offense. But he saw considerable time with the starters Wednesday, and again was a consistent presence.

    This is not to say Millhouse has cracked the starting line-up or that he will even see meaningful playing time this fall, but he will certainly be a name to watch moving forward, as he may be one of the Mountaineers' better options at inside receiver.

  • The most consistent player at that position this spring has probably been Tyler Urban. But the converted tight end got a few chances to go back to his old spot and put his hand on the turf to start plays on Wednesday.

    Since coaches were not available to the media for interviews after practice, it was not immediately clear if that was just a change-up look, or if Holgorsen may consider moving Urban back to tight end to allow for better pass protection.

  • It was interesting to see coaches from both sides of the ball congratulating players who made plays against their own pupils.

    At one point, Millhouse made a nice catch over the middle in traffic, absorbing a big hit from a safety while still maintaining possession. As he came up off the turf, the first person to offer a high-five was safeties coach Steve Dunlap.

    And on the last play of 11-on-11 work, Smith attempted to throw a fade to receiver Stedman Bailey in the corner of the end zone. But young cornerback Avery Williams read the play all the way and easily swatted the ball away.

    As players headed to their respective stations for the team's ball security/turnover circuit to end practice, Holgorsen made a point to seek out Williams and offer some encouraging words about the nice play he made.

  • A full day of activities surrounding the Gold-Blue game will take place Friday, and as always, BlueGoldNews.com will have it all covered.

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