First Two A Day Practice Altered By Weather

Saturday was to see the first full contact drills of fall football camp, but the weatherman again didn't cooperate at the Mountaineer football complex.

The morning session was conducted under mostly sunny skies inside the stadium with the team in shells (helemts and shoulderpads). Contact was limited during this session, with the team on the field for just about two hours.

Offensive work almost exclusive focused on the passing game, with one on one, six on eight skeleton, and eleven on eleven passing drills dominating the workout. Passing game coordinator Steve Bird put the offense through just about every passing situation in the book other than coming out from the end zone. The team worked on the redzone passing game, third and long, first down, and just about everything in between. The morning session culminated with both the first and second teams working on the two minute drill.

On the offensive side, wide receiver Aaron Neal had a very good session, as he began to live up to the promise he showed early last year. Jubal Thomas had a nice reception on a tipped pass, and also got free for a long touchdown reception, as did teammate Brandon Myles.

On the defensive side, Brian King, Grant Wiley and Lawrence Audena had pass breakups to their credit.

The offensive and defensive lines spent much of the morning performing individual drills before joining their teammates for the last few periods of the session. The offensive line again worked on keeping low out of their stances and worked extensively on their foot positioning and drive techniques.

Although head coach Rich Rodriguez was not overly pleased with the morning session, he did note that progress was being made. As is becoming routine, however, he also noted that the ever shrinking practice time available (now less than three full weeks) is still a concern.

That time got even shorter when the afternoon practice, which was planned as a full contact session, was changed just as the big hitting was to get underway. Yet another thunderstorm rolled over the grass practice field, chasing the team into the Caperton Indoor Facility.

With that move, practice was changed to a limited contact format, and although there was still some physical play, it was definitely a disappintment for the players.

The swtich in focus resulted in more work on the team passing game, and although a couple of periods were spent on inside run, the theme of the day became work on the passing game.

During the afternoon, wide receivers John Pennington and Jubal Thomas both made noteworthy receptions, while tight end Tory Johnson made up for a dropped pass in the first session with a pair of sparkling catches.

Jason Colson stood out with a pair of nifty runs on inside run and added a cutting run after a reception that left more than one defnder grasping at air.


Rasheed Marshall continued to show improved touch on his short and medium passes. His accuracy is also getting better, and overall he simply appears more comfortable with the offense.

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Every year there's a new wrinkle or two in practice gear. This fall, it's the ball cover. During individual work, the running backs place slick nylon covers over the footballs they carry, which forces them to lock the ball away under their arm rather than simply carrying it with their hand. This emphasizes ball security and hopefully will help prevent fumbles.

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The clock which keeps the time for each period during practice was soaked and put out of commission during the rainout earlier this week, so the old hand signs were put back in use until the automatic board can be dried out and repaired.

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The wide receivers and tight ends worked on making proper reads of the defense to adjust their routes on the fly, and again practiced getting their feet inbounds along the sidelines and in the end zone.

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