Spring Practice Notebook 3/20

As players donned full pads again for Tuesday's spring football practice, the competition heated up just as much as the balmy Morgantown weather.

There was a noticeable difference in the 30 minutes of practice reporters were permitted to watch Tuesday, as competitive drills -- often pitting one Mountaineer directly against another -- ruled the day.

Running backs and linebackers went one-on-one in simulated pass rush situations. The backs, directed by position coach Robert Gillespie, were tasked with blocking a rushing linebacker with no help.

The linebackers, conversely, were asked by co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson to quickly shed the block attempt and get to a dummy that simulated a quarterback.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen took particular interest in this drill, watching it closely and blowing the whistle to start each rep. Here is video from the drill:

They weren't the only ones going into a highly competitive small group drill. Wide receivers and defensive backs went 3-on-2 (with the receivers holding a one-man edge) to work on blocking and defending quick screen passes.

One receiver caught a quick screen, and the other two moved to engage defensive backs and block for the ballcarrier. Defensive backs, coached by the ever-enthusiastic Daron Roberts, worked to evade their blocks and minimize the potential yardage gained.

On the other side of the field, offensive and defensive linemen plied their trade against one another. The D-linemen had just completed their own quick fundamental workout as a group. New position coach Erik Slaughter seemed largely pleased with what he saw in this drill:

The word "violent" was used frequently by Slaughter, as he repeatedly asked players to use their hands in such a manner. Defensive linemen were also reminded of the need to start by pushing opposing blockers back into the offensive backfield, so "[the offensive player's] ass is going to lead the team in tackles."

That attitude must persist on every play, Slaughter said. After one rep, he praised freshman Imarjaye Albury's technique, but said his first try had been more violent. "Are you just violent half the time?" Slaughter asked.

Slaughter promised his players rewards for impressive work, as the better they fared in early drills, the less time they would have to practice against a blocking sled, he said.

NOTES:

  • Practice again began with special teams work, as simulated kickoff coverage and blocking situations were drilled. Here is video of how those exercises are conducted:

  • Wide receiver Ivan McCartney was still among those in red jerseys on Tuesday. McCartney is officially considered day-to-day with a hamstring injury.

    Slaughter's defensive line group took a couple of hits due to injury, as both Shaq Rowell and Trevor Demko suffered head injuries on Sunday, according to head trainer Dave Kerns. Both are also officially day-to-day.

    Rowell and Demko walked around with the defensive line group, watching drills and listening to Slaughter's instructions.

  • Footwork and pocket awareness drills have been the order of the day for quarterbacks to start every practice. We brought you video of one footwork drill on Sunday. Position coach Jake Spavital saw fit to add a new wrinkle on Tuesday, mimicking a pass rusher himself. Here is video of how that drill looked:

  • Mountaineer players will meet with the media for interviews on Tuesday evening. BlueGoldNews.com will have videos from those sessions after they are completed.


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