Spring Football Notebook II

West Virginia's second spring practice session moved inside Wednesday, enabling the Mountaineers to utilize their new turf surface for the first time.

And use it they did. WVU practiced until almost 6:30 p.m., breaking into units, then coming together for non-contact work at the end of practice. Each of the five quarterbacks got time behind center with their respective teams. Pat White led the No. 1s for the majority of the time, with Nate Sowers, Jarrett Brown and Adam Bednarik getting time with the second team. T. J. Mitchell moved between the second and third teams, while Brown also occasionally got time with the first squad.

Brown and White showed great passing ability, with Brown lofting a gorgeous 40-yard rainbow to Brandon Myles, who made several impressive grabs throughout the day. One one play, Myles beat corner Larry Williams for a touchdown from White for his second solid catch deep. A handful of snaps later, Williams got a good bump, then released Myles and stepped in front of a pass for an interception and score.

Brown has the strongest arm of any of the quarterbacks, making even the longest throws with ease. He is not as quick as White or Sowers, however, though the latter has impressed Rodriguez of late with his speed and understanding.

Outside of that ongoing race, the most surprising aspect was WVU's myriad of punters. Besides Scott Kozlowski, White, a left-footer, and Bednarik, among others, also kicked.

The first sessions were individual drill work among units. The linebackers, under defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, practiced footwork by running through pylons with their head up. The agility drill was made more difficult when Casteel added throwing passes to the players, who would catch the ball, flip it away, then explode out of the drill toward a student manager, who threw another pass.

The defensive backs worked on their backpeddling and when to come out of the backpeddle to run with receivers. They were paired with another DB, who served as a wideout in a version of the old backyard offense-defense game. The backs bumped the recivers, then turned out of the backpeddle and located the deep ball. Antonio Lewis had a solid pass breakup during the session.

The defensive line worked a physical set, then eased into techniques. Bull rushing was followed by footwork and not overstepping on the first stride after a snap. If lineman overstride, they become off balance and can be easily moved. D-line coach Bill Kirelawich also assured his players came to balance after the first step into the offensive lineman, and that hips stayed square and that the first jab into the chest was accurate.

Alignment problems, such as where to stand over the tackle and tight end, were also addressed, as was getting power from the legs while using the hands as a controller.

The running backs practiced agility and footwork before moving to pass protection for the first time this spring. Stance on blocking and the hand location and technique were the main themes. Jet Best looked solid in running drills, and he will likely get a great chance this spring to show his ability with Pernell Williams moving to corner. Jason Colson was still taking the majority of his reps as a tailback, and had a couple nice catch-and-runs out of the backfield and on dump passes.

The offensive line focused on drive blocking and getting proper hand position with good balance. They also bet their back to keep the defensive line from getting upfield or moving around them.

West Virginia then went into skeleton drills following special teams for work with the skill players while the lines practiced by themselves for a few sessions before WVU put the entire units together for the last 20 minutes to work on first down plays. Passing was the main focus, though the Mountaineers will put on pads Friday for the first time. One should look for more run-oriented drills at that time.

Former Mountaineers Undra Johnson, Ernest Hunter and Matt McCullough, a Parkersburg, W.Va. native, took in the practice. Receiver Darius Reynaud wore a green (light contact) jersey for the second straight practice. Safety Quinton Andrews was also in green.


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