Spring Practice Notebook 3/10

It truly felt like spring in Morgantown on Sunday, as bright sunshine, warm temperatures and the sounds of rap music blaring from the speakers inside Milan Puskar Stadium greeted attendees at WVU football's first session of spring practice.

There were plenty of new faces both among those performing the drills and those instructing them, but on Sunday, we focused on the No. 1 position of concern for the Mountaineers entering spring: the quarterback spot.

Gone, obviously, is Geno Smith, though there was still a gold No. 12 jersey on the field for practice. Freshman Chavas Rawlins donned Smith's old number for his first practice at WVU.

He was joined at the position by Ford Childress (No. 7), Paul Millard (No. 14) and Logan Moore (No. 16 in white). In his first practice in charge of the Mountaineers' quarterbacks, offensive coordinator and former receivers coach Shannon Dawson focused on the barest of essentials.

As has been the case in past years with former position coach Jake Spavital, the quarterbacks spent the earliest portions of practice working by themselves and throwing into a net while working on fundamentals.

Dawson ran the signal-callers through a series of drills aimed at reinforcing proper footwork, an ability to "look off" defenders to set up quick throws, keeping eyes downfield while sifting through traffic, ball security and more.

The following clip depicts the simplest of those drills. Quarterbacks take turns receiving a simulated shotgun snap, turning and immediately firing a pass. The emphasis is on delivering an accurate ball with little time to visually lock on the target.

Dawson then tested players on footwork, as they had to navigate a series of cones while keeping their heads up (and occasionally having Dawson swipe at the ball). Once they got to the end of the cones, they threw at the net.

Players performed this drill in both directions -- once moving from left to right through the cones, and then moving from right to left.

Probably the troublesome drill for the would-be quarterbacks appears rather simple on the surface -- the player takes a snap, turns to "look off" the defense before making a quick drop, turning in the opposite direction and passing.

As you can see in the following clip, accuracy was a major issue for the quarterbacks in this drill, as some fired well short of the intended target, while others sailed the ball far over the net.

On the whole, it appears Dawson will have no lack of work to do with the quarterbacks. Some displayed poor fundamentals, throwing off the back foot or showing a sub-optimal release point. Still, it's worth emphasizing there is plenty of time for Dawson to fix those potential issues.

After the individual period of practice was over, quarterbacks worked together with their skill position teammates at receiver and running back.

Receivers ran routes one at a time, with position coach Lonnie Galloway calling out for a specific route just after each player broke off the line of scrimmage. The receivers had to quickly run the proper route. Quarterbacks had to identify when to expect the receiver to break the route and time a throw accordingly. It's the first -- and smallest -- step in a long process aimed at ensuring the sense of timing (a pivotal aspect of Dana Holgorsen's offensive scheme) is rock-solid between the players at those positions.


  • Among those in attendance for Sunday's practice were WVU athletic director Oliver Luck and former offensive lineman Jeff Braun.

  • While the quarterbacks went through the drills depicted above, the majority of other players were focused on special teams drills.

    In one of the few aspects of practice that is truly quantifiable during the 30 minutes per day reporters are permitted to view the proceedings, kickers Josh Lambert and Michael Molinari took turns kicking field goals. They did not face a rush.

    Lambert looked solid, delivering kicks that elevated quickly and had the power and accuracy to fly through the uprights. Molinari struggled.

  • Being the first day of practice, there were few injuries to report. However, four players were in red jerseys (signaling an inability to participate): Jared Barber, Wes Tonkery, Terrell Chestnut and Dante Campbell.

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