The Mountaineers Jump-started Fall Camp With Series Of Special Teams, Individual Drills On Tuesday

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia picked up right where it left off in the spring, focusing on special teams and base individual drills during the first 30 minutes of practice on Tuesday. Here's a look at a couple of those.

Needing to find not only a punter and placekicker - Josh Lambert is suspended for the first three games this season - but a holder and long snapper as well, West Virginia worked its field goal and punt units early in the session. In the initial video above, the Mountaineers use an all-encompassing drill to gain reps from the snapper, punter, protection and coverage units, as well as the possible returners.

WVU used both Jonn Young and Billy Kinney as punters, and mixed in a series of return players which included Gary Jennings, Marcus Simms, and William Crest, among others. Jennings was especially sure-handed, and appears comfortable at the slot, while Young often tried to showcase his leg strength instead of the prper direction of the punts. Kinney was solid, sending several beautiful punts into the corners and to the sidelines while also demonstrating control and the ability to get the ball to turn over in the air with a tight spin. Field goals were equally as good from an in-state player, as Mike Molina hit all four of his early field goals, the longest from 45 yards. Lambert was just as consistent, and appears to have the leg drive and strength back going into fall camp.

The Mountaineers also focused heavily on ball security drills, none more active than the strip-and-recover series overseen by defensive end coach Bruce Tall. The veteran assistant continually harped upon getting the proper angle and intensity of the strip, then quickly locating the ball for a quality scoop-and-return. Missteps were met with some heavier-than-expected criticism, which largely served to set the tone for what is expected to be an intense camp, with the defense having to rebuild the entire starting linebacker unit, and three of five spots in the secondary (Jarrod Harper and Dravon Askew-Henry return).

Check out the action below as the safeties run through the drill. Note that because all defensive players are rotating through a series of drills under the eye of each position coach, each position will be drilled briefly by a coach other than their own. While the safeties were working this drill - led by Henry (6), Khari Shariff (12) and Shane Commodore (38), among others, the linebackers were working their own ball security on picking up fumbled exchanges, while the line practiced sliding in to secure a loose ball on the field.

The idea, as head coach Dana Holgorsen has often pointed out, is to maximize the per-player reps in each practice; last season, Holgorsen noted before the bowl game that WVU did that better than all but one other school.


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