Ugly Day

Just about every time this spring, intensity on the football practice field takes a bit of a nosedive.

It was no different on Friday afternoon in Morgantown, when cold, gray conditions and some sloppy execution and lower intensity drew the ire of head coach Rich Rodriguez.

"It was an ugly day all around. Ugly weather, ugly football and ugly intensity," Rodriguez summed up after the afternoon practice in shells.

The weather also conspired to drive a number of the high school coaches in attendance into the Puskar Center as the afternoon wore on. More than 400 coaches are at WVU for the coaches clinic being held today and tomorrow, but the cold conditions chased many of them indoors.

On the field, there were some good plays, but an injury to yet another running back cast a further pall over the proceedings. During work on the two-minute drill, Jason Colson went down with a shoulder injury. Colson has been battling soreness in the shoulder all spring, and although the injury was not thought to be serious, his loss puts WVU in a critical depth position. Colson sat out the rest of practice, which left walk-on Freddie Little as the first team superback.

Little acquitted himself well, hitting holes quickly during 11 on 11 sessions and racking up a few solid gains. He also slipped into the secondary, got behind the defense, and caught a touchdown pass from Adam Bednarik.

One position move was also made, as junior college transfer Joe Sykes was moved from linebacker to defensive end. Sykes, who played defensive end as a juco, was struggling with some of the intricacies at linebacker. Although he still has a good deal of learning to do in terms of grasping the WVU defense, it's hoped that his comfort level of playing with his hand on the ground will help him fit into the Mountaineer defense more quickly.

The coaches also fell more comfortable in moving Sykes as Kevin "Boo" McLee has had a solid spring. McLee, who will also be featured as a blitzer in certain packages, has made great progress this year in executing his assignments.

RIFLE REPORTS

Brad Cooper remains the frontrunner in the placekicking derby. He has by far the best range of any kicker on the field. Andy Good is kicking well, but doesn't have Cooper's range. Punter Eric Daugherty also got some placekicks.

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Adam Jones, Vaughn Rivers and Anthony Mims all took turns returning punts.

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Former Mountaineers James Davis, David Upchurch and Jason Davis all took in the day's action.

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Jones was a standout on a day when the defense seemed to have the upper hand. On the first two plays of skeleton drills, Pac Man broke up the first pass and picked off second. Mike Lorello also had a big hit on Colson when he sliced through the line and dropped him just as he took a handoff.

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Freshman tackle Chris Bassler had an excellent day in one-on-one drills, drawing the praise of offensive line coach Rick Trickett.

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Redshirt freshman Marc Magro was with the first team at middle linebacker due to the absence of Alex Lake.

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The defense also managed to increase their pressure on the quarterback on passing plays. However, Rasheed Marshall displayed excellent pocket presence on several of those plays as he stepped up to gain time to throw the ball. Rasheed appeared to be calm in the face of the pash rush, and didn't hurry his throws.

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The fastest players from winter testing in the 40 yard dash included Jones at 4.27, Chris Henry at 4.29, Kay Jay Harris at 4.35 and Rasheed at 4.36.


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