Rod Report - Day VIII

West Virginia's first full scrimmage kicks off this afternoon following today's morning practice in shirts and shorts. Head coach Rich Rodriguez previewed what the Mountaineers would drill and the players that will miss the fully-officiated session.

Quarterback Patrick White again did a bit more than the previous day, and the sophomore signal caller is slowly working back to 100 percent from his muscle sprain. White, who wore veteran writer Mickey Furfari's oversized sunglasses during interviews today, will be limited again this afternoon. West Virginia has not thrown much the last three days, so the arms of reserve quarterbacks Nate Sowers and Jarrett Brown should be near full strength. Both threw without problems this morning and should be fine for the estimated 75 minute scrimmage.

Tailback Steve Slaton will also be limited because of overall muscle soreness. He walked a bit gingerly in the Puskar Center, but, as Rodriguez noted, "we pretty much know what he can do. And Ed Collington did not practice this morning with a sprained ankle. I don't think it's too serious, but I don't know if he will go this afternoon."

The plays will be called in from the sideline like a game situation. Only Rodriguez will be on the field with the team, reviewing individual and unit performances and correcting mistakes. The Mountaineers plan to run about 100 plays, starting possessions at the 30-yard line, then working from the 40 in and inside the red zone. It will also back the ball up against the goal line to practice getting out of the end zone.

Rodriguez said he would like to have hotter weather to tax the team a bit more. It has cooled from the low 90s to a high of 79 degrees today with no humidity. WVU will scrimmage on the turf because its first three games are there. The first grass match-up comes against East Carolina in the fourth game.

"Because you don't keep score, you can only kind of guess what is going on (as writers)," Rodriguez said of his reason for further keeping practices closed, limiting media to just four hours of the 14 two-hour practices. "I'll tell you everything that happened. But until we even see the film it is hard for us to give you an honest evaluation because some guy might score five touchdowns but it might be against 11 freshmen on defense. We kind of know who is going against who, and everybody will get reps today. I'll let you know if there were any execution problems and if anybody stood out. But there are so many guys rolling in and out that sometimes a guy stands out because the other guys don't do very well."

Notes: *Rodriguez, who said Anthony Leonard playing this year is a long shot, did note that freshman linebacker J.T. Thomas has stood out the most of the newcomers at that position. "He has done some really nice things," Rodriguez said. "But all the true freshmen right now are way behind."

*Offensive linemen Greg Isdaner did not practice because of a likely knee sprain. In the line's flip-flops, WVU kept Ryan Stanchek at tackle, and he has looked all right. He will stay there a bit longer while the coaching staff evaluates who the best five linemen are. Rodriguez also said John Bradshaw could play guard or tackle. He would man the left spot with Jeremy Sheffey at right guard. Rodriguez wants the five in the first unit set before the week of the first game.

*West Virginia only had about "six or seven" wideouts that practiced, and Wes Lyons is getting many reps. "He still has a ways to go, but you can tell he has talent and is learning," Rodriguez said. "I think the pace of our offense gets those young guys a bit. But we have liked what we have seen at times so far, but other times he looks like a freshman. There are a few that have a chance to play there."


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