Quick Look: Daily Schedule

Here's a peek inside West Virginia's daily fall practice schedule until school begins August 21st. A quick glance reveals just how much time is spent on football in the 16 days.

Collegiate teams used to practice in the morning and evening, meaning WVU's players would be piled up inside the Puskar Center. The freshmen were usually in the high-traffic areas, while the vets had found quiet nooks away from the incoming media and the bustle of a normal business day. Now, with only four two-a-days scheduled, players are free to look at film or lift in the mornings before the 1:30 p.m. start of individual meetings.

1:30-2:30 p.m. – Individual meetings. Players break off from teammates into personal settings. Coaches can pull certain players aside and instruct them as to what they are doing incorrectly and how to improve. This is also the time when individual units are together, watching film and getting instruction from position coaches. The offensive line watches their tapes, as do the tailbacks, the defensive backs and so on. Players like Jason Colson and Jeremy Bruce, who are splitting time at slot receiver and tailback, will watch film with both. Colson is spending the majority of time with the tailbacks of now, while Bruce is still mainly a wideout.

It is during this time, and in the later individual meetings, that heady players like Jay Henry emerge. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said that he has to watch himself during teaching, because Henry will often correct him if he is not 100 percent right. Henry denies such thorough defensive knowledge, and Casteel's claim that he could line every player up if need be. But Henry, along with roommate Dan Mozes, appear to be the two players on each side of the ball most knowledgeable about WVU's schemes.

2:30-5:?? p.m. – Practice. We'd put a finishing time on the drills, but it depends upon the crispness of the work. West Virginia drilled fine the first day, aside from cramping, then slacked a bit on Sunday and Monday. Head coach Rich Rodriguez told the team during the first practice that they would determine how fast or slow the session went. The NCAA does determine how long teams may practice, so Rodriguez is hamstrung a bit, and only a bit, as he will tell the athletes. Practices are broken up into different periods, and the Mountaineers move around and hit different areas as fast as any team in the nation. It's a fast-paced, energetic style that keeps players interested and motivated. But on the first day a player did the wrong stretch, and Rodriguez made the entire team start over, so there is a balance between pace and doing the drills correctly.

5:30-7 p.m. – Dinner/Media interviews. On days when players are available, they will answer questions if requested, or return calls to out of town media. Rodriguez speaks with the media everyday, but the players are available about twice per week while the true freshmen are off limits for the first seven days of drills to give them time to settle in. The team then eats together at a rather nice buffet-style dinner which always includes a couple meat offerings, a salad bar, vegetables, many different fruits and a full assortment of beverages and an ice cream/frosty-like dessert, which seems to be a personal favorite of assistant sports information director Phil Caskey.

The media might most lament the loss of two-a-days, because WVU's players were once interviewed after lunch. The media would then be able to finish any leftovers from the training table. As it is now, the lone thing we see is Mr. Caskey with another frosty-filled cup. No complaints, however, because the staff does a great job of nutrition instruction, and all the players' tastes and appetites are reasonably accommodated. West Virginia does not, this season, have any vegetarians.

7:30 p.m. – Team meeting. The entire squad meets here to discuss practice and what the future schedule is, then heads off to individual rooms to study as a complete offensive or defensive unit. The coordinators (Jeff Casteel on defense and Calvin Magee on offense) will go through different formations and looks. Rodriguez also works often with the offense and is the main quarterback coach aside from Bill Stewart, who is also the special teams coordinator. The pieces are put together, taking players from the earlier individual unit meetings and the practice sets to a cohesive unit that plays together.

8:00 p.m. – Special teams meeting. Players report to their assigned special teams units for instruction. Many play on multiple units, so the times are staggered for most effective teaching. Place kickers and punters get instruction, just as they did on the field with WVU's new laptop setup, where they are filmed and then can watch themselves right on the field to check technique. Formations and play calls are reviewed. This is actually a vastly overlooked area of play which has become more in vogue the last decade. It is the only area where major field position changes happen upon nearly each snap, and the days of it being a second-class area are over, especially in college, where teams utilize their best athletes.

8:30 p.m. – Individual meetings. They day ends the same way it started, with another round of film study. During fall drills, that is most often a review of the day's practice and the latest reps the players have taken. The coaches can also take a look at the film, broken down during the dinner hour by the graduate assistants. It is fully digital, a major change from the earlier, bulkier and slower film setup.

9:30 p.m. – Snacks. Head strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis emphasizes the need to eat continually to keep the metabolism going. Right after lifting and practice – and after the players are fully re-hydrated – they are encouraged to drink milk, which both helps build muscle and aids in the recovery of the body. Milk is the single most effective post-workout drink to help reestablish any lost nutrients. Players are also offered other snacks to keep the body recovering overnight and ready for another day's drills – because the last thing one wants is a hungry college student binge eating pizza or chocolate or fast food right before bed, when it is least-effectively burned off. The effects an linger into the morning, making players sluggish.

11:00 p.m. – Curfew. Want to be watched by millions on a given Saturday? Then it's in the apartment an hour before midnight. Call it kid-like, but tired players are useless the following day. This is not enforced throughout summer, but it is during fall camp.

Keep in mind the coachs also spend extra time on schemes and discussing the team's development and what is working and what is not. This schedule is noticably difficult on families, so it's little wonder wives and children often stop in the Puskar Center for lunch and dinner-time visits, or simply to watch practice.

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