Fall Football Musket Blasts

A number of tidbits, too big to ignore but too small for their own articles, adorn this edition of Musket Blasts.

On the first day of camp, as much news is usually made by who is not in camp as who reported back. A quick rundown:

Defensive back Krys Williams, as expected, did not return. Somewhat surprisingly, backup offensive lineman Justin Williams has also apparently decided to give up football, making it a bad day for the name Williams in Mountaineer land. That leaves just true freshman Larry Williams to carry that name on the WVU roster this year.

Junior college defender Joe Sykes is apparently one class short of graduating, and will reportedly remain enrolled at junior college for the fall semester.

Freshman defensive back Vince Beamer is awaiting clarification from the dreaded NCAA Clearinghouse, and was thus sidelined for the day.

Defensive back Eric Wicks will enroll at WVU as a prop, and thus will not be eligible for football this year. Still pending are enrollment decisions on Fernandez McDowell and Milton Collins, who will likewise not be on the field for the Mountaineers this year even if they are accepted by WVU.

James Alford, Chris Bassler, Kevin Burke, Antonio Lewis and Michael Meggett will defer their enrollments until January, while offensive lineman Devin Kirkland will attend Jones Junior College in Mississippi. Jones is the current home of another former player who once committed to WVU -0 defensive back Tywan Napper.

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Several new drills were in evidence this fall. One of those involved wide receivers recovering fumbles from odd angles. As the wideouts stood on a line, a ball was tossed from behind them with the call of "ball". The wideouts then had to locate the ball and recover it quickly.

In another twist, tight ends worked on catching the ball while first looking over one shoulder, then turning to the opposite side and finding the ball after it had been thrown. Tory Johnson made several acrobatic catches during this drill.

On the defensive end of the field, the inside and outside linebackers broke into separate units to work on their read and react skills. The mike linebackers faced a trio of offenise lineman (the center and the guards) who then ran a play with a certain blocking technique. The mike bakcer had to read the lineman and make his play in the appropriate hole.

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Placekicker Brad Cooper picked right up where he left off in the spring, booting his placekicks high and far through the uprights. Freshman Andy Good didn't have the quick height that Cooper displayed, but he still showed a strong leg and good promise for the future. With a shortened fall camp, however, it might be difficult for Good to unseat the ultraconsistent Cooper.

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Along those lines, it used to be true that the initial fall depth chart was subject to almost daily revision and shuffling for the first week or two of practice. That might not be the case with the new practice model, so with that in mind here's a quick look at the first units to take the field.

The offensive line, from left to right, was Jeff Berk, Dan Mozes, Ben Timmons, Geoff Lewis and Tim Brown. Tory Johnson was the tight end, with Miquelle Henderson, John Pennington and Travis Garvin the wideouts. Rasheed Marshall, Quincy Wilson and Moe Fofana were the starting backfield.

On defense, Ernest Hunter, Ben Lynch and Fred Blueford were the starters across the front, with Grant Wiley, Adam Lehnortt and Leandre Washington stacked behind them.

In the secondary, Mike Henshaw and Mike Lorello held down the spur and bandit spots, with Brian King and Lance Frazier at cornerback and Jahmile Addae at free safety.

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The punt and extra point teams received the bulk of special teams work on the afternoon. Getting tryouts on punt return duty were Frazier, Garvin, Adam Jones and Anthony Mims.

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Strength coach Mike Barwis' new regimen continued even after practice, where he conducted the team in several minutes worth of flexibility work with giant rubber bands. The bands provided extra resistance in the team's post-practice stretching sessions.

The lengthly practice session wasn't without its lighter moments, though. As has become customary during long workouts, the players took an extended water and popsicle break at the midway point during practice.

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