Thursday dawned cool, yet mostly clear in Morgantown, and the day continued with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the fifties. However, as the Mountaineers took to Mountaineer Field around 4:00 p.m., the weather began to deteriorate rapidly.
WVU was able to complete only about nine periods of practice before a gusty front of winds and a combination of snow and sleet moved into the stadium, forcing practice into the Caperton Indoor Center for the second day in a row.
The bad weather didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of practice however, which was quite spirited. WVU's first spring session in full pads was much more intense than the previous two days of drills. Individual station drills and the scrimmage portion of practice were run at a greatly quickened pace.
The first part of practice was devoted to several different station drills, where individual techniques were being taught and reinforced. The defensive coaches concentrated on breaking down tackling into its base components of moving the feet, exploding the hips and wrapping up ball carriers, while the offensive coaches worked on getting off the line of scrimmage, blocking, and staying low off the ball.
Once the individual work was completed, several different versions of offenses versus defense were on display, ranging from seven to nine offensive and defensive players. At times, the offensive and defensive lines broke out for more individual work, as well as the outside receivers and cornerbacks.
During this session of practice, both inside and outside runs as well as the short passing game were worked on extensively as the coaches hustled to get as much as possible on film before spring break.
The final periods of practice were devoted to eleven on eleven, giving the first look at the new defense in action against the spread offense.
Players drawing notice on the offensive side included Avon Cobourne and Quincy Wilson, both of who broke off a couple of long runs on sweeps. Rasheed Marshall and Danny Embick again threw the ball well, but almost all of the passes were short swings and quick throws in the slots and to the sidelines.
Scott Beresford had the catch of the day with a leaping grab, while John Pennington got behind the defense for another long reception. Tight end Josh Bailey drew big "oooohs" from his teammate as he grabbed on pass and ran over two defenders for a nice gain.
On the defensive side, nose guard Ernest Hunter impressed onlookers with a combination of quick moves and powerful rushes. Hunter got to the quarterback four straight times at one point in one on one blocking drills, drawing praise from defensive line coach Paul Randolph.
Big hits on the day were recorded by Leandre Washington, Dwayne Mundle and Jerry White, who knocked the ball free from Marlon Burnette after a reception.
The team now breaks for the spring, with the next practice slated for April 1. That session will be in shorts as the Mountaineers begin to work toward Saturday scrimmages on their way to the Gold Blue Game on April 20.