Spring Football Practice Report - 4/3

An emphasis on short yardage and red zone situations highlighted Wednesday's spring football practice session.

The focus was on short yardage and goal line situations during the scrimmage portions of Wednesday's spring football practice.

During the scrimmage session, the Mountaineer offense worked on a variety of third down situations, and capped off the day's drills with several series of first and goals from the ten yard line.

The defense had the upper hand during much of this session, as it was bolstered by the appearance of David Upchurch, who has an engineering class that overlaps weekday practice sessions. The offense didn't unveil their full arsenal during these plays (for example, few quarterback runs were called) but the defense still forced field goal attempts on a majority of the drives.

Earlier in the scrimmage session, the offense came out on top, as both Avon Cobourne and Quincy Wilson ripped off several 10-15 yard runs. Rasheed Marshall continued to run well with a couple of scrambles, and Hikee Johnson also stood out with a couple of tough runs.

Big hits on the day included a pair from Lawrence Audena, one from Leandre Washington that forced a Quincy Wilson fumble, another from Jahmile Addae, and a third from Lew Daniels on Cassel Smith after the latter made a leaping catch of a Rasheed Marshall pass. Audena's hit on Hikee Johnson after a short gain on a sweep was the big shot of the day, drawing oohs and aahs from the entire team.

On offense, quarterback Danny Embick did not throw at all, although he did participate in the "inside run" portion of practice. The rest was described as "precautionary" after a long week of work throwing.

The punt and field goal teams also got a good deal of attention on this cloudy and cold day, which forced practice inside the Caperton Indoor Center. With A.J. Nastasi missing practice for class, punters Mark Fazzolari and Charlie MacInnis got the majority of work at holder, while kickers Todd James, Zach Anglin and Shawn Whitmire all got work.

The punt team worked diligently on staying in lanes and getting under control on kick coverage, as coaches Bill Stewart, Steve Bird and Tony Gibson all paid close attention to the coverage schemes. Among those getting work as the bullets on the punt team were James Davis, Arthur Harrison, Jermaine Thaxton, Dee Alston, Anthony Mims and Kaili Gamble.

Individual standouts on the day were Lawrence Audena, who had several big hits and played well from his free safety spot, and Cassel Smith, who recorded a couple of nice catches from his new wide receiver position. Hikee Johnson slipped down a seam for a long touchdown reception, and offensive lineman Tim Brown had several nice blocks during nine on nine drills.

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