Spring Practice Notebook 4/5

Another day in full pads meant plenty of contact for the Mountaineer footballers on Thursday evening, as West Virginia moved past the halfway point of its spring practice period by completing its eighth workout of 15.

Drills began, as per usual, with rather extensive special teams work.

On Thursday, it was kickoff coverage and return that got the attention, with a full five minutes devoted to "half field" work, where players on each side of the field went on alternate reps to allow coaches a better chance to watch and correct individual techniques.

That led to a full scale kickoff workout. It wasn't quite conducted at true game speed, as defenders never actually made a move to tackle the return men, but it was the closest West Virginia has come to a full speed workout this spring.

Perhaps the hesitance of defenders played a part, but return lanes consistently seemed reasonably large. However, coaches on both sides appeared to be relatively pleased with the work being done, so there may have been no major flaws in coverage either.

Once the special teams drills ended, Mountaineer players ratcheted up the physicality during the "Oklahoma" drill. Both offensive linemen and running backs seemed to generally get the better of defensive linemen and linebackers, respectively.

Shawne Alston and Ryan Clarke led the drills with impressive blocking jobs, with Alston besting Tyler Anderson and Clarke working over Taige Redman.

The skill positions typically don't star in the drill nearly as much as the blockers and tacklers, but Andrew Buie made for one notable exception. On a play when Kyle Rose badly beat his opponent, Buie made an impressive spin move in a tight space to evade Rose and run away easily.

Defenders did their best to even the score on a couple of occasions. Jorge Wright showed a nice combination of technique and aggressiveness on one rep, as he powered past Pat Eger. Ismail Showell also brought a loud pop of pads on one play, thumping receiver K.J. Myers and getting to the ball-carrier.

From there, the Mountaineers broke into their individual position groups to work out with coaches. Running backs showed their versatility during their time with position coach Robert Gillespie, working on a variety of techniques in quick fashion and running from station to station.

At one stop, Gillespie threw oversized, 10-pound medicine balls at his players, who exploded out of a slight squat to hit the ball with their hands, simulating the "punch" they make to begin a block.

After each player went through that drill on a couple of occasions, they moved to a station where footballs were tied to an elastic band that was hooked to a goalpost on the other side.

There, they powered through the resistance to run away from the goalpost, where they had to slap hands with a waiting Gillespie to finish a rep. Of course, the resistance from the band ensured they had to work hard to maintain ball security while moving their feet quickly enough to progress forward.


  • There appears to have been no change in the status of wide receiver Ivan McCartney, who was again in a red jersey (signaling an inability to participate due to injury) for Thursday's drills.

    WVU's head trainer Dave Kerns had previously told BlueGoldNews.com that McCartney was dealing with a hamstring injury and was officially considered day-to-day.

  • In terms of good news on the injury front, there appear to have been no new injuries beyond those previously reported here. Both Terence Garvin and Jewone Snow continue to wear red as they will sit out the entire spring after offseason surgeries.

    Pat Miller was not seen at practice, but his spring is also over after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot.

    No players were wearing green jerseys (signaling limited ability to participate). In fact, the green shirts have rarely been seen at all thus far this spring.

  • Mountaineer assistant coaches are scheduled to meet with reporters later Thursday. BlueGoldNews.com will have full video coverage, and ultimately stories from the question-and-answer sessions.

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