Spring Practice Notebook 3/12

New Mountaineer running backs coach JaJuan Seider may be known best for his recruiting prowess, but an examination of the way he runs drills shows a focus on even the tiniest of fundamentals.

At Tuesday evening's practice session, we focused extensively on Seider and the running backs to break down some of the drills they are working through.

As has been a custom at West Virginia practices in recent years, the running backs began drills working on ball security. This starts with a simple drill in which players take turns holding the ball while a teammate tries to grab and push and pull at it.

The goal is simple: maintain perfect form and not allow the ball to move at all. Players practice this with the ball in both hands to ensure it's not just their "strong arm" that locks the ball away well.

In a bit of a twist, Seider adds a second drill that sees the ballcarrier rapidly chopping his feet and keeping his head up away from the chest, simulating a fast run while keeping his eyes down the field and the ball secured tightly. Again, a teammate pokes and prods to try to force a fumble.

After the above repetition, Seider chided players for taking it too easy on their teammates, suggesting they needed to be more aggressive in attempting to take the ball away.

Seider later worked with his players on breaking out of their stance properly on a potential pass play, showing an intention to block and then moving upfield to receive a short screen. The most common mistake here was a tendency to move too quickly to prepare to receive the pass instead of shading back to hold defenders in place.

Seider preached the same patience later when running backs started running routes with the quarterbacks. Considerable work was spent on swing passes into the flat. Seider emphasized the need for players to keep looking upfield until the opportune moment to turn back and look for the ball.

A common error was a few players turning their routes upfield before the ball was released -- something that was quickly and repeatedly corrected, as Seider told his players to allow the flight of the ball to be what takes them up the field.

This echoed a similar lesson from earlier running drills. Backs were told to run as if the play call was an outside zone. They had to read a simulated one-on-one block in front of them and follow the proper path.

Many players were corrected for taking the ball upfield too quickly instead of following the block for long enough to stretch the play to the outside. "This isn't inside zone," Seider said, asking those who made the simple mistake to run through the drill again.


  • A brief examination of the quarterbacks shows that accuracy continues to be an issue for just about every signal-caller on the roster. Position coach Shannon Dawson had his players going to the ground for push-ups after each throw that missed the net.

    A few errant throws went far from their intended targets -- with one sailing into the running backs group (eliciting a bit of trash talk) and another punching a hole in the lining material construction crews are using to separate the ongoing work in the team's weight room at the Milan Puskar Center from the field itself.

    "That's supposed to be an easy throw," Dawson said to his players at one point.

    Freshman Chavas Rawlins showed impressive accuracy in the earliest drills, but his delivery may lack the snappy release of teammates Ford Childress and Paul Millard. Rawlins also struggled a bit throwing deep routes later in practice against the wind, as his throws lacked the touch of those of Childress and Millard.

    Childress largely looked strong, but he was not immune to the accuracy issues that occasionally plagued everyone in the group.

  • Seider and the running backs weren't the only ones having basic fundamentals to correct. At one point after the skill position players combined to work together, receivers coach Lonnie Galloway chided a player for holding a ball in his inside (to the field) arm instead of keeping it towards the outside.

    "That's common sense, right Cashdollar?" Galloway yelled out to WVU offensive graduate assistant Vince Cashdollar. Before the GA could answer, Dawson yelled back, half-jokingly, "Nothing is common sense to some of these guys."

  • Among those at Tuesday's practice were former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston and former quarterback Pat White.

  • Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen is scheduled to meet with reporters for a press conference later Tuesday evening. BlueGoldNews.com will be there and have video of the briefing available to view on our web site.

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