Rod Report - Day VI

An injury to one kicker and an elevation in the play of another has further settled the punting battle, head coach Rich Rodriguez said Thursday morning.

Place kicker Pat McAfee strained a quad muscle and is very limited for the next two days. The sophomore, who was also trying to punt, has given way to Scott Kozlowski, who is striking the ball very well now according to Rodriguez. McAfee will likely handle the kickoffs and all point-afters and field goals after he heals, but it will be several days before he can generate full power on the kicks.

"He is progressing no where right now," Rodriguez said of McAfee. "He is in a red (no contact) shirt because he has a quad strain and can't kick. He hasn't done a whole lot of anything. I think another couple of days he will be back. But he went around to all these camps this summer. That ain't the same as working out up here. I think he learned a lesson. If he wants to be ready to go and do what we do, it usually helps to be around our strength staff instead of running around all these camps.

"But he learned a lesson and he will be back. We expect him to be better this year. But I don't see him, the way Scott Kozlowski is punting the ball, I don't see how he is going to beat him out. He is punting it better than he ever has. Pat is working on it, but his primary focus is on kicks and kick offs. I don't know if (Pat) ever was a leader. Pat has kind of a different kind of personality. The guys like him and I think some of them follow him. He is not a bad guy, but I think the leadership comes from how you perform and how you carry yourself off the field. Pat does all that well, though. It's not like he is totally out of shape, but he is not ready to go like the guys that were here."

Freshman David Brewer will handle all kickoffs in McAfee's absence. The 5-11, 205-pound Columbus native won't be forced into action today, as WVU will not kickoff. But he will be utilized Friday, when the Mountaineers again practice the drill.

Quarterback Patrick White threw a bit in this morning's session, conducted in shorts and shirts in 65-degree, overcast weather. West Virginia will return to full gear for a contact session this afternoon. Reserve quarterbacks Jarrett Brown and Nate Sowers are becoming arm-weary from the throwing, so the afternoon session will work running more with an emphasis on goal line and short-yardage work.

"We will cut down on the throwing this afternoon ," Rodriguez said. "Pat White did some stuff, not everything. (Brown and Sowers) did some good things and some bad things. They are playing like redshirt freshmen today."

Rodriguez said the lone goal this afternoon was simply to get better. West Virginia will host officials today to watch practice and let the coaching staff and players know if there are any rule infractions in situational scrimmaging. The first full-scale scrimmage will be Saturday.

Rodriguez –

On the young secondary players: "I think (Guesly) Dervil has a chance to help us anyway, even if Kent (Richardson) keeps progressing. Of the DBs, probably Dervil has the best chance to play this year, on defense and special teams both. Boogie (Allen) and Greg (Davis) and Robert (Williams) are still a little ways behind. (Dervil) is a pretty physical kid. He is aggressive. That is why he will be a good special teams guy. He seems to have a knack and a nose for the ball. It's hard to tell with six practices, but he is a little older, too. He didn't graduate last year, he graduated two years ago, so he is not a 17-year old kid. He is 19, maybe just turned 20."

On defensively preparing for more passing this year: "We are pretty conscious of it. We gave up some big plays in the bowl game. That may be a way people attack us. We have to look at some things not just cover-wise but pressure-wise. Our staff has done that over the past several months. But our focus is still to make a team one-dimensional, stop the run and force them to throw. But every defense tries to do that, plus every offense would like to be balanced. E would like to be balanced, but if we don't have to be, then we won't. We have a few other things in the package, like screens and play-action passes to keep people off us. We don't have any particular set number of runs or passes going in. We just want to score and win. We have thrown it a lot in this offense. That was a few years back, and now we have some pretty good running backs and the quarterback can run, so our first focus going into the game is that."

On if the players should be thinking about Marshall yet: "Yeah, some. We have not gotten into the game preparations or anything, but I know some guys watched some tape. They will get into it certainly toward the end of the next week. We will do some Marshall preparations."

On if the out-of-state players realize the opener's significance: "No matter who you play in the opener you ought to be excited. It has been a long time since you have played a game and you don't have any exhibition or preseason games. Everybody will be cranked up for the first game. The face that it is Marshall and it has the hype has gotten our players' attention. We are excited about it, as I am sure is Marshall. Because of the fact that it's a sellout and there has been a lot of talk about it our players understand the importance. We have to really talk about it at length. I'd like to think to our players that every game is important. We count them all as one and they are all big games. I would hope that our guys get jacked up for every game. Shoot, you only player 12 games, hope to play a 13th. It ain't like you play 80 games or 160 games like Major League Baseball. There are only a handful. You work all year for those 12, I would hope they get fired up."

On the NCAA rule changes involving clock operation: "Most coaches have to do a little bit of adjustment. I think it will take away five or six plays per game. It will shorten the game down a little bit. You have to be aware that the clock is going to start sooner at the end of the half and game. We did a two-minute drill today and pointed out to our guys that they will have to be ready and be ready sooner. Being a no-huddle, it is not as much of an issue for us, but you have to be ready. Everybody has these charts where you can kill the clock with so much time, and all those have to be redone now. You can kill more clock now. On defense, you have to be aware of how much time you will leave (the offense) to score."

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