Rod Report - Day III

West Virginia underwhelmed for the second consecutive practice Monday, when the heat seemed to make the minds a little soft, according to head coach Rich Rodriguez.

The practice, on the grass field, was moved up from its normally-scheduled 3:30 start because of anticipated rain, which never showed in Morgantown. The temperature, near 100 on the Mountaineer Field turf, hovered around 90 on the grass surface. The Mountaineers, who went in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) for the first time, still had problems with cramps, and Rodriguez reiterated that they are not nearly ready to play a game. It's a good thing, then, that WVU has three more weeks.

"We were sweating a little bit out there before the whistle," Rodriguez said. "I didn't ask (what the temperature was) because I did not want that word to get out. We went our regular two hours."

The disappointments came when Rodriguez couldn't get the coaching message delivered to his second and third teams. On Sunday, he told a special teams unit to toss the pads away on a drill three times before some of the players began to do so. The fourth request was followed by a grab-and-fling of the pads from a lineman, and, rather quickly, the other players then followed. Such similar problems in play execution might be plaguing WVU.

"I am having to repeat myself," Rodriguez said, "particularly to the young guys. When you rep a play, then you repeat the play to the second and the third group, they should never screw up. It is harder on the first group. The third group has already seen the test twice. They listen pretty well, but when it gets a little hot your mind gets a little soft, in my experience. I hope it does not continue like that because I will not be able to talk to you guys. I have calmed down some. Today wasn't a good day, though."

The installation is actually on or ahead of schedule, however, meaning West Virginia hasn't lost any practice time having to repeat plays or instructions. Quarterbacks Jarrett Brown and Nate Sowers have been specially solid, and, while neither has had time to emerge, both are steadily improving and escalating their play at a similar rate.

"The installation is going as well as we hoped and I think both are emerging at the same time," Rodriguez said when asked if either of the two had played better. "I know (Penn State head coach) Joe Paterno won all those games and he used to say two quarterbacks meant none, but I disagree with him there. Too often when you have just one quarterback, or none, it means nobody has gotten better. I want both to come along, emerge together. That worked pretty well last year (with Adam Bednarik and Patrick White)."

Rodriguez was also asked if he thought he was any calmer now than in his first year, when West Virginia had to switch from an I-formation offense to the spread and a 4-3 base to a defense that pressed the line more, which later changed again to the odd stack.

"You mean like a kinder, gentler (coach)?" Rodriguez said. "That first year was brutal. You know, I don't like to yell. I really don't, honestly. I only yell when I am angry. I don't yell when I am not. I don't know. I think I have calmed. You'll have to ask my wife. She was at practice today."

Rodriguez also offered numerous other observations, among them…

The defense: "The defensive line will be pretty deep. We have more guys that we will play at linebacker than we have ever had, too. Jay (Henry) can play them all, Reed Williams can play multiple positions, Mortty Ivy can play many, Marc Magro can play many. And there is a big battle at free safety with (senior Abraham) Jones and (freshman Quinton) Andrews. I think (Eric) Wicks will be the unquestioned leader in the secondary and Ridwan Malik is showing some things back there."

On Boo McLee, considered, like Dan Mozes on offense, to be the key cog around which may other players operate: "Last year he finally stated playing ours and not Uniontown's defense. He got comfortable with it. We were moving our linebackers from right to left, now we have them set. We changed our scheme with that. He is a very athletic player, and we thought he was one of the better players last year, and he is in great shape now."

Notes: *Receiver Dorrell Jalloh remained in a red (no contact) jersey for the second consecutive day following a sprain to his left foot on the first day of drills. He is helping teammates through practice, providing encouragement and instruction and taking the "mental reps."

*Linebacker Mortty Ivy remained in green (limited contact) and has not yet been cleared for full contact by the West Virginia training staff. WVU's first day in full pads will be Wednesday, its fifth practice. It will have had two in shorts and t-shirts and two in shells. The shells allow slight hitting of the upper body.

*Cornerback Greg Davis was also in green after a hamstring tweak on the first day. He is trying to break into the two-deep, but did not report in shape, according to Rodriguez, which could have led to his hamstring injury. WVU is still awaiting full NCAA clearance on the Virginia native.

*Placekicker John Babcock (5-9, 185 pounds, Murrieta, Calif.) has left the team. He was dressed and ready to practice, then decided to leave and supposedly return home. He was doing more kicking than he ever had, according to one player, and might have been surprised at the level of workouts, as freshmen often are, and was stressed about being so far from home.

*WVU originally awarded the retired No. 75 of Sam Huff to freshman offensive linemen Jake Miller, a 6-6, 315-pounder. The oversight was corrected and Miller has been assigned another jersey number.

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