Spring Practice Notebook 4/17

The final days of West Virginia's spring football practice schedule are winding down, as the Mountaineers returned to work for the 13th time this spring for a Tuesday evening session in Morgantown.

In a rare bit of deviation from what has otherwise become a remarkably similar practice routine, special teams work that started the day featured "live" punting from the offense's own 2-yard line -- instead of the typical work from a more conventional field position.

Still, the change didn't seem to bother Corey Smith, who is clearly head and shoulders above his competition at punter. He consistently boomed high, deep kicks that traveled more than 50 yards in the air and repeatedly forced punt returner Tavon Austin to backpedal to field the ball.

The role of co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest in assisting the special teams units was again clear, as the punting team was all but ready to snap on one rep (indeed, a cadence was already being barked out) when DeForest stepped in and instructed a part of the protection unit on a flaw in its alignment.

Once the punt work ended, the team again got the physical part of practice rolling with the "Oklahoma" drill. The excitable Erik Slaughter seemed to have something to say after each rep from his defensive linemen, praising Jorge Wright for what Slaughter said was the player's "second tackle in a week and a half."

There were other highlights for Slaughter's crew, as J.B. Lageman made an impressive power move to bulldoze through Curtis Feight and tackle Andrew Buie. On another play, Imarjaye Albury got the better of Quinton Spain -- and did so in such dominating fashion that both sides demanded a rematch.

But that was a win for the offense, as Spain manhandled Albury the second time around, allowing Buie to cleanly squirt through an open hole.

Here are three videos from the drill:


  • Injured running back Dustin Garrison continued the rehabilitation process from the knee injury he suffered in the days before January's Orange Bowl victory over Clemson, as the sophomore-to-be appeared on the sidelines and jogged around the perimeter of the field lightly.

    Garrison is expected to return to action in time for preseason practice in August.

  • Ryan Clarke again did not participate in practice, though he was not on a stationary bike and not in a red jersey. He, too, was prowling the sidelines just before reporters were asked to leave practice.

    Clarke is officially considered day-to-day with what head trainer Dave Kerns described as a "lower extremity issue" last week.

  • ESPN personalities Joe Schad and Jesse Palmer and CBSSports.com reporter Bruce Feldman were among those in attendance for Tuesday's practice.

    Dana Holgorsen and WVU players are scheduled to meet with the media later Tuesday, and BlueGoldNews.com will have full coverage from those sessions.

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