"The weather's no good, that's for sure," head coach Rich Rodriguez said following the session, which was conducted in full pads but featured limited hitting for much of the day. "We need about a week's worth of hot weather to get everyone into game shape."
The cooler climate was welcomed by the players, however, who were spirited and ready to go from the outset. Rodriguez set the tone early by conducting Oklahoma drills as soon as pre-practice stretch was concluded, and the resulting one on one battles resounded with the sounds of cracking pads and cheering teammates. Some of the best matchups came between linebackers and tight ends, as each group sought to gain the upper hand in the confrontation of offensive and defensive units.
Special teams work was limited, with only the punt team getting work as they kicked the ball across the field. Phil Brady again got off several towering kicks against a live rush, although no returns were run.
The teams then split into units, with the offense progressing through the normal skeleton and passing drills, while the defensive unit worked on pass coverages with the back eight defenders. WVU is well ahead of its installation pace of a year ago, according to Rodriguez.
"The extra meeting time we have actually has us ahead of where we were last year," Rodriguez observed. "During the acclimation period (when only one practice per day is allowed) we have a lot of meeting time. We have most of the offense and defense in already."
Following those periods, the units then rejoined on the Puskar Center end of the field for a spirited session of inside run. Although the Mountaineers worked on this play phase earlier in the week, they did so without the benefit of full contact. This time, no such restrictions were in place, and both units squared off with high intensity. The defense dominated the early going, but the offense came through with several nice runs near the conclusion of the set, including a pair of scores by freshman Alphonso Gross and some physical bursts by Jason Colson.
Individual unit work was the next order of the day, and practice then wrapped up with 11 on 11 full scale scrimmaging. The defense executed several blitzes, while the offense worked on a number of horizontal passes along with more running plays.
Standout plays on the afternoon included a beautiful blitz pickup by the offensive line that led to a Brandon Myles reception, and a Rayshawn Bolden go route where he left the defense in the dust to haul in a long score. Linebacker Scott Gyorko had an interception of Rasheed Marshall during red zone scrimmaging, and tight end Adam Serena drew words of praise on more than one occasion for both his blocking and tackling.
Saturday brings the first two a day session of the fall, and despite the work done on Friday, an even more strenuous day is anticipated for Saturday. An early morning session in pads will only serve as the setup for what is expected to be a big afternoon of hitting and hard work.