West Virginia focused mainly on the punting units, working on the return and getting the traditional and rugby-style kicks off. Antonio Lewis, Vaughn Rivers and Jeremy Bruce returned the punts, then flipped the ball back to reserve punters, who would kick it back upfield to Pat McAfee and Scott Kozlowski. McAfee's hang time was longer than Kozlowski's, but the latter's kicks traveled farther. Kozlowski is especially effective out of the traditional set, but he also nailed three to four rugby punts that turned over nicely. One of the punts narrowly missed drilling assistant Tony Gibson, who was walking up the middle of the field.
While the kickers practiced in the middle of the field, skill position players were taking jugs along the sidelines. The tight ends, running backs, receivers and secondary players all broke into individual units and took about 15 minutes worth of balls on the jugs machine. The wideouts, under the instruction of assistant coachButch Jones, caught passes head-on, then turned sideways and caught them as though they were quick flare passes out of the backfield for receiver screens. They then turned around, and worked on quickly turning, locating the ball and catching and securing it. It's a simple drill that hones fundamentals and finding the passes when coming out of patterns.
The two tight ends flanked one who was catching passes and tried to smack the ball away as it hit the player's hands. Defensive backs worked on coming up to cover the receiver, then finding the pass and picking it off out of the machine. The linebackers also took a few reps in this drill. The defensive line was working agility and explosion off the snap, and – as always under Bill Kirelawich – detail-oriented ideals like hand placement, footwork and head location when attacking offensive linemen.
The centers and quarterbacks worked exchanges and handing the ball off to the tailbacks. The line, meanwhile, was on the 40-yard additional pad located at the end of the field away from the IPF, going through basics like hand location and back bend while back stepping on pass blocking. The coaches then brought the entire offense together for a set of plays for two periods, most of which were passes (typical of this time of practice because most teams prefer to drill the run game in full pads because of its physicality). The quarterbacks also did another unique drill where they are fed snaps quickly and must fire passes to receivers positioned at various locations and depths on the field. The drill was added to later, when the signalcallers were instructed to move right, left, forward or back by QB coach Bill Stewart before he would yell the location of a wideout, to whom the pass would immediately be thrown. The reps are great prep work for moving in the pocket, re-squaring the shoulders and firing accurately down the field.
Patrick White's passes were razor-sharp, showing good velocity and crispness. Jarrett Brown has a bit of a long release as compared to White and Nate Sowers. The three also worked on finding the tailback out of the backfield, with White passing to Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt and Sowers and Brown splitting second-team duties with Jet Best and Jason Colson. The tailbacks also took a few footwork reps by running over practice pads placed on the ground. The drill is designed to get faster feet, to keep the feet lower to the ground so that one can cut more quickly.
The defensive backs further worked on covering receivers, dropping the deep threats off to the safeties and coming up to cover on curl and out routes, among others. They also worked on reading their field location and picking up wideouts in different zones and along the numbers and hashes, which are ideal field marks for knowing where one is and what one should do with the receiver in the area. The team also went through the basic stretches and warm-ups. They did step-overs, slide-steps, toe touches and the traditional stretching.
The lone injuries were to receiver Dorrell Jollah, who was in a red (no contact) jersey for the second straight day due to a foot fracture. He now sports a removable cast/wrap from his foot to his left knee. Freshman defensive back Greg Davis was in a green (limited contact) jersey because of a hamstring tweak. He is day-to-day and was held out for precautionary reasons. Mortty Ivy was back in full-contact garb, but there was no contact allowed today.
We'll have head coach Rich Rodriguez's comments in the second Rod Report and player stories upcoming tonight, as well as Chris Richardson's look inside the first two practices in ‘The Richardson File' on BlueGoldNews.com.