Spring Weather Returns For Close of Practice

Beautiful weather greeted the Mountaineer football team for the final practice of the spring before Saturday's Gold-Blue game.

The fourteenth session of the spring was a short one, with only about one and one-half houirs of regular work. Despite the fact that the team was in full pads, there was again limited contact, and no tackling. Those facts served to lessen the intensity displayed during the afternoon.

Perhaps the most spirited work was put in by the offensive and defensive lines. Anytime coaches Rick Trickett and Bill Kirelawich get together, there is bound to be some headbutting, and both mentors had their charges working on putting individual techniques together. The offensive line worked on doubleteam and combination blocks, while the defensive line concentrated on stunts and twists. Many of those drills were done with two linemen on each side of the ball.

The spring's final periods of seven on seven featured work on the option game and screen passes. That didn't leave the receivers out of the mix, however, as downfield blocking was a point of emphasis

When the full teams took the field, the short passing game was put to the test, with a number of short drops and quick throws making up the bulk of the afternoon's work.

Each team recorded a noteworthy play. Tight end Brad Palmer, running with the first team due to the absence of Josh Bailey, made a tough catch in traffic for the offense. Defensive lineman Jason Hardee topped that, however, by picking off a Rasheed Marshall pass and rumbling about 50 yards for a TD. Although the coaches blew the whistle long before he reached the endzone, Hardee didn't stop until he crossed the goal line.


Head coach Rich Rodriguez offered these comments at the close of practice:

"I feel like we need 14 more," the head man said, referring to his take on the first 14 practices. He added that he was happy about some things, disappointed in others.

Among the things he was disappointed with: "The lack of execution, particularly offensively. Part of that is due to injuries, but every team has injuries."

On Saturday's scrimmage: "We like to see who doesn't make the mental mistakes."

On Joe Sykes: "We feel that he can be a talented pass rusher."

Rodriguez also named Ridwan Malik, Dwayne Thompson, and Brandon Myles as guys who have had impressive springs and made cases for more playing time.

"Thompson has had the opportunity to get more reps with Bednarik's shoulder injury. Brandon Myles was in the mix at receiver from the start, but has proven himself as a possible big play threat this spring."

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