Tall Preparing For Busy Summer

As we head into the summer, many of us are making vacation plans. For new West Virginia football assistant coach Bruce Tall, the summer schedule is filling fast with work assignments.

While most of us are heading for the beach or other vacation spots, the West Virginia football staff is setting up for yet another busy summer of work. One of those coaches, spur and bandit mentor Bruce Tall, has even a bit more work in front of him.

Tall's first assignment after returning from his Ohio recruiting duties will be to review his players' spring performances and identify areas of improvement. And although he is still working on those tasks, he has some general impressions of his first spring at West Virginia.

"I think there's no question we saw great improvement with our guys each week," the veteran coach said. "They worked hard and put the time in both on and off the field. I'm very pleased with them in that regard.

"The thing we have to do now as a group is become more consistent players. We have to do things in a more consistent fashion, and at a higher level."

For example, Tall notes that he was happy with some of the plays that were made by his defenders, but believes that they can make even more. He wants to eliminate some of the uneven play that marked spring, and makes that his biggest goal for the fall.

The coaching staff will also be convening regularly over the summer to review the defense and begin charting changes for the 2003 season. Tall explains that this involves a lot of time as the coaches get together to discuss every aspect of the defense.

"We do a lot of that during June and July," Tall said of the coaching sessions. "We sit down as a staff and go over the spring. We review all the [film] cutups, and then we'll start with additions and subtractions. We'll add what we believe will help the defense, and then we'll cut away things that aren't working as well.

"You sit there all day and hash things out, as long as it takes. You put together your basic plan first and then you try to add to it a little bit at a time."

Fortunately for Tall and his fellow assistants, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is "wide open when it comes to input", according to Tall. Tall and defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich have a great deal of experience, and their offerings and suggestions are expected to have a great impact on WVU's defensive plans for the coming season.

Like the other coaches, Tall will also be participating in West Virginia's summer football camps, but that's the only on-field work they will experience until the Mountaineers reassemble in August. NCAA rules prohibit on-field coaching contact during the summer months.

That doesn't mean the players will be idle, however. Summer workouts and informal practice session have beocme the norm across the country, and Tall believes that work can be important in helping his players hit the ground running in August.

"The best thing they can do is get with the quarterbacks and receivers and work on their coverages," Tall said of his players in particular and the defensive backfield in general. "They know the schemes, so they can work on a lot of seven on seven stuff.

"The other thing they can do is get with the strength coaches and work hard on their different agility drills. Moving in space is the big thing. You have to learn how to move your body as fast as you can."

West Virginia's progress in position-specific strength training is ahead of the curve, according to Tall. He's had several coaching positions at various schools, but has yet to see skill development taken to the level that West Virginia has.

"I think strength coaches are trying to start [increasing their skill development] at other schools, but this is the first place I've been where we have a guy dedicated to that. We're a little bit ahead of the curve in that regard. We've got (Jim Nowell) that's in charge of that, which is a definite advantage."

As a newcomer, Tall must also become familiar with the incoming recruits. He wasn't involved with recruiting those players, and as a result doesn't know as much about them as the coaches that were on the staff over the past season. That's just another task that will contribute to his busy summer.

"When I get off the road recruiting, I'm going to watch the tapes of all the guys that we signed," Tall said. "I've already met a couple of them and spent some time with them, so I should at least have a feel for them."

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