Defense Dominates Scrimmage

West Virginia's second officiated scrimmage of the spring was dominated by the defense, but head coach Rich Rodriguez wasn't pleased with the effort or execution shown by his team during the eighth day of spring drills.

"We looked soft and unemotional and didn't look like a football team. I don't know if guys are reading their press clippings or think they have arrived but we aren't even close to being a good football team. We're not close to being an average team," Rodriguez said after the offense sputtered its way through the scrimmage on a mostly overcast day. The Grant Town native showed his displeasure on several occasions, including in the media post-practice interview when he announced, "the answers are going to be short."

The defense had its way with the offense for most of the afternoon, and although the offense did mange to record a couple scores from close range late in the scrimmage, the defense was in control for much of the day. The second and third team defensive lines got a lot of penetration during the scrimmage, and disrupte da number of plays before thye had a chance to develop.

The offense was hampered by the absence of Bryan Wright and Kay Jay Harris, who remained sidelined while recovering from concussions, and by the loss of Jason Colson on the first series of plays. Colson, who was apparently kicked in the back by Kevin McLee on a block attempt, did not return for the remainder of the day. That left the offense with just three running backs, including converted safety Dwayne Mundle.

Starting from their own 30-yard line, the first team offense did manage to mount a decent drive on its first possession, but a Brad Cooper missed field goal from 42 yards ended that possession without a score. The defense then stopped the next three series before Andy Good managed to sneak a 39-yard field goal through the uprights for the first points of the day.

The ball was then moved to the own five-yard line to begin the next set of possessions, and the defense really took control. Larry Williams, who had already recorded an outstanding pass break up and a jarring tackle, intercepted a pass to snuff one drive, and the defense chased Rasheed Marshall out of the end zone for a safety on the next possession. Two more offensive possessions yielded two more defensive stops, leaving the players in blue firmly in control of the action.

The next set of possessions was begun from the defense's 40-yard line, and with that advantage the offense finally showed some signs of life. The first team offense finally recorded a touchdown when Freddie Little capped a solid drive with a short touchdown run, and Andy Good kicked his second field goal of the afternoon on the next possession. Hikee Johnson capped the offense's resurgence with another touchdown, but the defense bounced back with a stop of its own on the last series in that set.

Finally, goal line offense and defense were put to the test with possessions starting on the defense's eight-yard line. From that range, the offense would be expected to have the upper hand, but the defense got in its licks as well. Charles Hales yielded an interception to Anthony Mims on the first possession, and the defense also held the offense out of the end zone on two other series, although Good and Cooper each converted field goals to cap those drives.

In addition to the two interceptions, the defense also forced several fumbles. Ernest Hunter had a forced fumble on Hales, who also dropped another ball while coming out from center, and Rasheed Marshall fumbled out of the back of the end zone under pressure when the defense scored their safety.

Before the scrimmage got underway, special teams work took center stage. Both Eric Daugherty and Phil Brady kicked the ball well under pressure on conventional punts, but Daugherty had the edge on rugby punts. Vaughn Rivers, Anthony Mims and Adam Jones all took turns on returns. Kickoff and kickoff returns were up next, with Brandon Myles, Eddie Jackson and Antonio Lewis getting chances on runbacks.

WVU returns to the practice field on Monday for the final two weeks of spring drills, culminating in the Gold-Blue game on April 17.


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