Friday Spring Practice Report

The third practice of spring drills always means that the players are allowed to dress in full pads, and Friday's workout was no different.

Despite fair weather outside, the Mountaineers took their practice indoors for the second time in three workouts this week. The intensity is seldom an issue on the first day in full pads, and the move inside to the compact Caperton Indoor Practice Facility certainly did nothing to deter that aspect of practice.

The presence of full pads meant that some new drills could be done today that have yet to make an appearance this spring. Among those is the hamburger, or Oklahoma drill. If you aren't familiar with it, here's how it goes: a ball carrier sets up behind an offensive lineman, who is blocking a defensive lineman. Behind them is another offensive blocker, and another defensive player. I think you can figure out the goals of all players involved from there.

This is always an entertaining drill to watch, particularly with the young players. One of the players I conciously kept a close eye on today was freshman running back Jet Best, and the Palm Beach product didn't dissapoint. He showed the ability to accelerate past the first blocker and into the hole as quick as any running back on the team. Once he was there he was able to easily juke the second defender and run to daylight.

One of the staples of the Oklahoma drill is big hits, and today was no different. The first big hit was courtesy of bruising fullback Owen Schmitt. The junior-to-be gave freshman linebacker Ovid Goulbourne a rude welcoming to his first full contact spring practice as he ran over the Easton, Pennsylvania native too a chorus of "oohs" and "ahhs" from his offensive teammates. Moments later though the blue shirts got revenge as safety Quinton Andrews laid the wood to receiver/running back Jeremy Bruce.

The Mountaineers also worked on field goal kicking and blocking for part of Friday's practice. Pat McAfee's leg looked as strong and accurate as ever as he hit several kicks from various differences. The kick rush was effective on a couple of occasions though as both Akeem Jackson and Reed Williams were able to block a kick.

Other special teams work included punt coverage and punt return blocking. Punt returners were Bruce, Darius Reynaud, Antonio Lewis, and Vaughn Rivers.

One other note about Rivers: he was moved back to defensive back on Friday. Originally the former Perry Academy standout was a defensive back in Morgantown before switching to slot receiver last spring. Today he was back on defense, but for how long is unknown.

On the injury front, junior receiver Brandon Barrett was dressed in a red jersey today which signifies no practice. Adam Bednarik was again in green as a decision on whether he will have another shoulder surgery apparently has yet to be made. Jason Colson was also limited for part of practice after apparently tweaking his left leg during Oklahoma drills.

Bednarik ran some routes during quarterback/receiver drills as a wideout, which isn't uncommon during spring drills at West Virginia. Rich Rodriguez prefers his quarterbacks to know every position, and routinely sends them to run routes with receivers.

Several performers stood out during a spirited series of drills that pitted defensive backs against wide receivers. Larry Williams, vying for a starting job at field corner, turned in several nice plays. Pernell Williams showed good awareness on occasions by forcing his receiver out of bounds before the ball had been thrown, but not using his hands to do so. Dwayne Thompson had a nice leaping catch which he then took the distance, and also beat cornerback Charles Pugh on a deep route for a touchdown pass. Weirton native Eric Turner had a pick during these drills.

The Mountaineers will hold their first scrimmage of the spring tomorrow morning, weather permitting.


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