West Virginia Held Saturday's Session Inside the Caperton Practice Facility

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.- West Virginia held its second Saturday practice open to media, conducted inside the Caperton Practice Facility.

And while the snow and blustery winds forced the session indoors, the Mountaineers got in solid work during the approximately two-hour session. The most notable absences were running back Kennedy McKoy and receiver Marcus Simms. McKoy was attending prom at his alma mater, North Davidson High in Lexington, N.C., while Simms was at a funeral. Head coach Dana Holgorsen said he allows all early enrollees to attend their prom, a deal he makes with them prior to their enrollment for the spring semester.

William Crest was the second team back in place of McKoy, while the remainder of the depth chart remain largely unchanged from last week, even as he coaching staff shuffled players along the lines and within the skill slots in an effort to find the best fits.

WVU opened the session with individual drills in much the same way as they had the previous week, then moved directly into field goal work, starting close and working back to beyond 40 yards. The execution was crisp and efficient, and placekicker Mike Molina hit all but one of the eight tries in maximizing his opportunity with Josh Lambert suspended for the spring.

The team then immediately moved into additional individual drills before the first and second teams matched each other for three series each. WVU's first team was thwarted twice before scoring on its third possession after a couple long runs by Rushel Shell followed by Skyler Howard's keeper up the middle. The Mountaineers attacked downfield often, but the defensive secondary responded effectively, breaking up several passes to the sideline and benefiting from a drop by David Sills. 

As was the case last week, Chris Chugunov ran the second team, alongside Crest, with the rest of the second teamers the same.

WVU then went back to more individual drills. The quarterbacks focused on footwork, downfield vision and ball security, while the line was again divided between Ron Crook (centers and guards) and Joe Wickline (tackles and tight ends). Wickline drove home the point about communication, reiterating his point from last week that calls must be louder and more demonstrative. Crook locked in on footwork, hand placement and proper drive, among other things.

Holgorsen oversaw the wideouts, along with new position coach Tyron Carrier, and was hands-on, explaining breaks, angles on routes and the need for balls to be delivered faster by the quarterbacks in cover zero situations. The Mountaineers maxed their reps, with three to four quarterbacks throwing to wideouts all running different patterns to varying depths. There was work on quick slants, deep balls to the sideline, and intermediate patterns, and that segued into one on one battles between defensive backs and receivers. At one point, Carrier even got in on the drills, the 28-year-old completing them better than some of his players.

Ka'Raun White again showed his explosiveness and ability to create separation downfield at the last moment, and also the physicality to get off the line in press coverage and secure the ball with strong hands. White often sealed off the defender effectively, using his body and then squaring to provide a solid target. The junior has all the makings to be a legitimate threat, and seems to be continually elevating his play, especially operating against a solid corner like Antonio Crawford.

On defense, the line drilled individual technique, focusing on hand placement, drive and angles to collapse the pocket. The linebackers and secondary worked gap fits, then came together in what was essentially a skeleton drill without an opponent and again drilled fits against the run and some pass looks.

West Virginia then went back for another brief scrimmage session, with neither side being dominant. The roughly 25 play session ended practice, as the Mountaineers went to a cool down and stretching. Shell was effective running the ball, while Howard also showcased his ability on the ground. The quarterback has focused on footwork and lessening some of the unnecessary body movement in the pocket in an effort for increased accuracy on throws, and some of that is beginning to show in intermediate patterns. Howard escaped on multiple broken plays, and made significant gains downfield before being run out of bounds.

Defensively, Rasul Douglas had an interception return for a touchdown, and there were several solid hits in the passing game. The first team offense was able to move the ball on the ground some, but the second team was largely stonewalled. There was no punting during the session, as the size of the indoor facility does not permit it.

Receiver D.L. Knock and offensive lineman Jacob Buccigrossi were the only players in no contact jerseys. Fellow wideout Gary Jennings returned, and looked back to full speed after being limited last week with a wrist injury. Also of note, former WVU offensive graduate assistant Dan Gerberry accepted an unspecified position at Pitt.


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