Rodriguez Looks Ahead to Spring Practice

Head football coach Rich Rodriguez provided a preview of spring football practice during a lunchtime gathering on Tuesday.

On the just announced football schedule: "It's a challenging schedule but we hope to have five or six national television games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. A lot of teams don't get that many. Playing those games is getting us attention, and it's seeming to show up in recruiting and at other functions. I think our program is getting known nationally and we have to take advantage of that.

"It was amazing how many people saw those midweek games. You have a captive audience, especially if you aren't going up against 'The Bachelor'. There are a lot of people tuning it. It makes your plans a little more difficult, but I feel like it's well worth it.

"I've never had two midweek games back to back, but I think having the midweek game here in Morgantown is good. Our students will enjoy it."

On position moves and experiments: "Vince Beamer will start the spring at free safety, and Ben Lynch will start out at defensive end. We're going to look at a lot of different things and try to find out who's ready to compete for playing time, so you'll see a lot of different players out there. We will have the most competition at several positions since I've been here."

On Injured Players: "Jahmile Addae will not have any contact this spring, although he will work in drills. Adam Lehnortt will be out, and Tim Brown might practice at the very end of spring, but that would be limited."

On Leadership: "We need to turn to our seniors again for leadership. We have two seniors at quarterback in Charles Hales and Rasheed Marshall, who both are great leaders. Now we need some others to step up. We are looking for Eddie Jackson to be a leader, even though he hasn't played here yet. We need Jeff Berk, Tim Brown, Kay Jay Harris and Miquelle Henderson to be more vocal. On defense, we have guys that have been productive, like Ben Lynch, Scott Gyorko, and Adam Lehnortt, and we need them to step into those roles.

"The last couple of years we have had really good leadership. The thing I would ask of this senior class is that they be a little more vocal now."

RIFLE REPORTS

  • Zac Napier will likely get extensive work at center.

  • Rodriguez may allow quarterbacks to be hit on occasion, especially in scrimmages. Last year's dearth of QBs has suddenly become an overflowing cupboard.

  • Rodriguez noted this is his first spring without a change on the coaching staff, so continuity should be improved.

  • Winning postseason games is high on Rodriguez priority list.

    "Our goal every year is to win the league, and then we have to win the bowl game. I've been miserable every winter for a couple of months, so we need to win them. We want to get to the biggest bowl games and win them, and that's a big step because that hasn't been done here."

  • Rodriguez also added some comments on the makeup of his classes, and the nature of this year's team.

    "Our first recruiting class will be seniors now, even though it's a small one. We're still bottom heavy with freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores, but the key is to have veterans. You want guys who have developed in your program for four or five years. We have a few that have been here four years, but the next couple of years should be when we really start to see the benefits of that.

    "We have some concern because we have some guys who have some work to do academically and get themselves right, but we have the chance to have some explosive players. We weren't good enough last year offensively, but we had enough explosive players to bail us out."


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