Spring Practice Notebook 4/11

Football practice invariably involves one-on-one drills of some sort -- lineman versus lineman, receiver versus defensive back and so on. But West Virginia has brought that same individual accountability to special teams work this spring.

Kickoff return and coverage units got to participate in a two-on-one drill early in Thursday's practice which focused on the individual skills demanded of each person on those special teams.

The first level of blockers had to run laterally, get to a predetermined point (a hash mark) and then attempt to engage a player from the coverage unit already running at full steam. Once the coverage man eluded his first blocker, he had to take on a second, either eluding him or, more typically, using brute force and technique to "shed" the blocker and finally reach a kick returner.

The drill provided a great chance for coaches -- led by special teams coordinator Joe DeForest -- to analyze each individual aspect of these two critical units. He could have either been very encouraged by what he saw from the coverage unit, or very concerned by the return unit.

Several players stood out in the former group, starting with Ricky Rumph, who had two outstanding repetitions of the drill in which blockers laid nary a hand on him. Cody Clay, Vernon Davis and Nana Kyeremeh also received praise for their work in covering the kicks.

On the blocking side, only Garrett Hope truly stood out, making an outstanding play on the last rep of the drill, when DeForest called for other coaches to pick out the best players from their respective group. Hope stonewalled the attempt of a coverage man, taking his opponent to the ground with a perfectly legal block.

In other special teams action, it wasn't the best day for kicker Josh Lambert, who missed three of his five attempts in the typical early PAT/field goal period. Lambert made a point-after and a 29-yarder from the right hash, but pushed a 34-yarder wide left, had a 52-yard try tipped at the line and then also pushed a 29-yard kick wide left.

Beyond the special teams work, there wasn't much to see Thursday, as the defensive units engaged in the same rotation between three stations described in our Tuesday notebook.

On the other side of the field, quarterbacks and receivers worked on timing, running routes and throwing with no defenders. Notably, with the move of Logan Moore from quarterback to receiver, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson was pressed into duty, alternating reps with freshman Chavas Rawlins.

RIFLE REPORTS:

  • On the injury front, Pat Eger was back in action, fully cleared after re-injuring his ankle a little more than a week ago in practice. But Andrew Buie was in a red jersey and pedaling a stationary bike, after what head trainer Dave Kerns termed a lower extremity injury. Buie is officially day-to-day.

  • Among those watching practice from the sidelines was former Mountaineer head coach Don Nehlen. Nehlen and Dana Holgorsen stood just behind one of the end zones watching quarterbacks throw to receivers and chatting.

  • Holgorsen is slated to hold a press conference later Thursday evening, and BlueGoldNews.com will have video of it posted on our site as soon as possible following the conclusion of the question-and-answer session.


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