Spring Practice Notebook 4/2

West Virginia's players trudged over to grab their shoulder pads just as the clock struck 4:00 p.m. in Morgantown on Tuesday afternoon. Then, after a brief stretching period, they wasted little time putting the protective gear to good use.

It was a physical practice for the Mountaineer footballers on a beautiful, sunny day that was far colder than it appeared. Temperatures hovered in the low 40s, but it felt far colder than that as winds whipped inside Milan Puskar Stadium.

The weather wreaked a bit of havoc towards the beginning of practice, as WVU spent an extended period of time devoted to detailed special teams work.

Things started with field goal kicking, where the conditions didn't play much of a role, but the performance was far more inconsistent than it had been in previous sessions. In a sign of what was to come, kicker Josh Lambert banged his first kick -- a chip-shot -- off the left upright before falling through.

Lambert, who has been one of the stars of the early spring, didn't have his best day of work. He did convert a 29-yard kick from the right hash and a 34-yarder from the left hash (the latter of which included an outstanding hold from Michael Molinari, who snagged a high snap and quickly got the ball down), but a 42-yard try from between the hashes was blocked.

Then, another short try never happened, as the process broke down between the snap and the hold. It may not have mattered, as the field goal block unit had a great push on the snap and may have earned another block had Lambert gotten to kick. The final attempt of the period, a 29-yard kick, sailed wide right.

The focus then turned to kickoff returns and kickoff coverage, with several coaches devoted to working with small groups on technique and recognizing the proper blocking assignments or coverage lanes to follow.

The work wasn't solely mental, though. K.J. Myers showed that on one rep, blocking his opponent and driving him 10 yards out of bounds for good measure -- earning praise from the many coaches (including Joe DeForest, JaJuan Seider, Lonnie Galloway, Brian Mitchell, Tony Gibson and Dana Holgorsen) who were focused on the drill.

West Virginia then went to a full-scale "live" kickoff scenario, with contact between the blockers and coverage men (who were instructed to not tackle the kick returners). A host of players got a shot at returning the ball, including Jordan Thompson, Andrew Buie, Brodrick Jenkins and Vernon Davis.

Perhaps because of the cold and wind, Buie failed to cleanly field his kick, drawing criticism from several coaches.

But the highlight of the 30 minutes of practice reporters were permitted to watch was clearly the "Oklahoma" drill. In general, the offensive players seemed to get the better of their defensive counterparts in the one-on-one blocking situation, but the intensity on both sides picked up markedly after a brief fight that started between receiver Connor Arlia and defensive back Brandon Napoleon.

The scrum was massive, at one point involving perhaps half of the players on the field. It was little more than pushing and shoving, but coaches ultimately intervened. Holgorsen blew a whistle and chided players for wasting time.

Things got more interesting immediately. Defensive line coach Erik Slaughter chided an offensive lineman after one rep for what he perceived as an obvious hold, saying, "We're supposed to tackle y'all."

Pads were popping far more regularly. Defensive lineman Will Clarke and offensive lineman Mark Glowinski got into another brief scrum, and heavy-hitters Kevin White and Karl Joseph tangled as well.

While the offense had the upper hand for much of the drill, there were a few notable exceptions. Defensive lineman Darren Arndt had a hard hit on running back Wendell Smallwood. Kyle Rose easily beat the block of Tyler Orlosky on one snap, allowing Rose to deliver a clean, hard hit to Nate Majnaric.


  • Among those in attendance for practice were former WVU offensive linemen Joey Madsen and Josh Jenkins. Several recruits were also spotted along the sidelines, a few of whom were chatting with team staffers.

  • Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen is slated to meet with reporters later Tuesday evening. BlueGoldNews.com will be there and have video of his press conference posted as quickly as possible.

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