Spring Doldrums

Beautiful spring conditions reigned at Mountaineer Field on Wednesday as the football team went through their tenth practice session of the spring.

"Went through" is the operative phrase, as the team appeared sluggish and decidedly uncrisp for much of what was a beautiful day for football.

The team practiced in shells (which should be the last such session of the spring) but despite the limit on full tackling, enthusiasm seemed low, which was in inverse proportion to the number of players in red and green jerseys.

In additon to those players already ruled out for the spring, Kay Jay Harris and Bryan Wright remained in green, and were joined by tight end Ryan Thomas. Adam Bednarik was also out with a shoulder bruise.

Perhaps the saddest story of the spring has been the missed opportunities of superback Jason Colson, who again got dinged and sat out the majority of drills. With Eric Phillips out for the spring, and Harris and Wright sidelined, Colson was presented with a golden opportunity to show his stuff and move up the depth chart. However, a series of injuries have combined to keep Colson on the sidelines for a great deal of the spring, and have thus thwarted his chance to make a depth chart move. Today, it was an ankle injury suffered early in the session that kept the New York speedster out of action.

About the only noteworthy play of the day was a repeat of the final first half play from last year's game against Pitt. Rasheed Marshall arced a high pass toward the end zone, where instant legend John Pennington somehow twisted pass Adam Jones to make a touchdown reception. That play generated some enthusiasm and at least ended the practice on a bit of a high note.

"I guess I just have a flair for the dramatic,"Pennington said of his catch. "Ever since I was growing up, I always wanted to make the diving catch or the big play."

RIFLE REPORTS

Special teams work focused on punt protection and punt coverage without actual punts. Both the first and second units worked on punt protection at both half- and full speed. On the punt protection unit, Marc Magro looked good as the personal protector as he stepped up to deliver blows to would-be blockers.

The punt team also worked on getting downfield and staying in their lanes while concentrating on their coverage assignments.

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After a day of some offensive improvement, the ball-movers again fell back into a bit of a funk. Several very catchable passes were dropped, and the offense again encountered trouble in coming up with consistent execution.

On four live series late in practice, the first and second team offenses could generate only one field goal while working on a hurry up pace.

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Travis Garrett worked for some of the day with the first team at right tackle.

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One coach who didn't share in all the gloom and doom of the past few practices was assistant coach Tony Gibson, who does have some good competition at the cornerback and safety positions.

"I thought we started kind of slow, but at the end when we did some banging around, I thought the intensity picked up some," Gibson noted.

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The quarterbacks were in black jerseys today, but will probably be allowed to be hit for at least part of the scrimmage tomorrow.

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Linebacker Alex Lake remained absent from practice. The coaching staff has reportedly been trying to get in touch with him without success.


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