Red zone, 1-on-1 drills highlight practice

On a day in which Dana Holgorsen thought his team would get to practice in the rain, creating an environment of what it could be like on game day at some point during the season, the grey skies held off for the 30 minutes the media was allowed to attend as the Mountaineers continued their preparations for the 2014 season.

West Virginia spent a chunk of those 30 minutes Monday getting into some red zone work - an area the team struggled to excel in a year ago. The Mountaineers scored on 32 of their 40 trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line in 2013.

That 80 percent mark was good for ninth in the Big 12 Conference, better than only Kansas' 69.7 percent success rate.

WVU spent a good portion of the practice members of the media got to see working on red zone offense. The quarterbacks spent time in these drills working on rolling out of the pocket and passing to running backs coming out of the backfield, as well as allowing the backs to get carries and read the gaps and go where they will be going in situations during games.

  • As the red-zone drills were going on, the defense worked on position-specific drills centered on some of the thing coaches have been talking about wanting to see improvement in. Corners and safeties were working on footwork, defensive line on hitting at the line of scrimmage and linebackers on shredding blocks and getting to a ball carrier.

    Throughout the entire practice, the coaches were fired up and made sure the players were bringing the same intensity with each drill.

  • The next series of drills saw more individual emphasis at certain positions while also allowing coaches to get a look at how certain units did playing together.

    The team split up into three groups, with the offensive line going up against the front six, the quarterbacks breaking off to throw a variety of different routes to the receivers and the corners going one-on-one against each other working on fade routes toward the end zone.

    The first group on the offensive line stayed the same, with Adam Pankey, Quinton Spain, Tyler Orlosky, Mark Glowinski and Marquis Lucas lined up from left to right. Michael Calicchio, Grant Lingafelter, Tony Matteo, Stone Underwood and Marcell Lazard making up the second team with Rushel Shell and Dreamius Smith running as the running back with the first and second teams, respectively.

    Noble Nwachukwu, Kyle Rose and Dontrill Hyman were with the first defensive line while Isaiah Bruce, Al-Rasheed Benton and Wes Tonkery took snaps at linebacker. The second team was made up of Christian Brown, Darrien Howard and Shaq Riddick with Edward Muldrow, Justin Arndt and Sean Walters at linebacker.

    This drill primarily focused on the linebackers and defensive line blitzing while the offensive linemen and running back picked up the blitz and making their blocks.

  • The defensive backs went one-on-one against one another until quarterbacks and receivers joined the mix. During the part where corners were against each other, Daryl Worley made a one-handed interception in the back of the end zone. Travis Bell was also able to consistently make plays throughout the practice.

    Once receivers and quarterbacks got involved, the offensive skill players were able to make a handful of plays as well, highlighted by an over-the-shoulder grab near the sideline by Daikiel Shorts against Jeremy Tyler on a well-thrown ball by Paul Millard and a nice move in space that allowed freshman Lamar Parker to get past his defender and pick up what would have been an easy first down.

  • In terms of injuries, defensive back Ricky Rumph was in a red jersey while Nick Kwiatkoski, Brandon Golson and Eric Kinsey were in green limited-contact jerseys.


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