Rod Report - Scrimmage Recap

Saturday's scrimmage was West Virginia's first of the fall. Several key veterans did not scrimmage due to various aches and pains.

Before he began his after-practice media session, Rodriguez read off a list containing the names of several players who did not participate in the scrimmage.

The list contained: Patrick White, Steve Slaton, Brandon Myles, Dorrell Jalloh, Ed Collington, John Maddox, Greg Isdaner, Keilen Dykes, Pat McAfee, and Mortty Ivy.

Most of those players were likely held out just for precautionary measures. All, with the exception of McAfee (strained quad), are expected to be back on the field when the Mountaineers resume practice on Monday.

With so many veterans watching the scrimmage instead of playing in it, you wouldn't expect the execution to be as crisp as it should. You would be correct in thinking that, according to the head coach.

"I thought that the effort was pretty good. The execution was not the best, which I kind of thought would happen particularly with all of the veterans who didn't practice," Rodriguez said.

"We didn't do a whole lot of correcting, because we wanted to be in as much of a game mode as we could. We didn't kick anything though, not field goals or extra points."

White's absence for much of the past week has put redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Nate Sowers and Jarrett Brown with the first team. Brown was particularly impressive today.

"Jarrett probably had one of his better days," said Rodriguez of the Palm Beach, Fla. native. "I thought he played pretty well at times, made some good decisions, and made some nice throws. Nate did a few good things, but his accuracy was off. I think his elbow was bothering him some because he was off on a couple of throws."

Much of the scrimmage consisted of situational work. That partly resulted in the first team offense being kept out of the end zone for much of the day.

"I don't know if the first group that was going against the first defense scored any touchdowns, but we brought the ball back a couple of times. We didn't continue the drives. We started one thing where we were backed up on the four yard line and brought it out past the 25, but then didn't continue the drive."

That, combined with the turnovers, resulted in the blue shirts (defense) getting the best of the men clad in white (offense).

"Overall I think the defense had the better day, particularly because of the turnovers, but some of that is the offense's fault," Rodriguez noted. "You can't beat yourself, and today was an example of beating yourself."

Intensity-wise, Rodriguez said there were periods of good hitting but also noted that many of the younger players are a little bit too cautious when going in for the big hit.

"There were a couple of nice hits, but of course I'd always like a few more," he said."I did think that our guys were running to the ball. We could have hit maybe a little harder I thought. I think it's more the younger guys though. Sometimes they have a tendency to not let it loose because they don't want to miss a tackle, or miss a block and they just kind of feel their way around instead of just letting it go.

Some of that comes along with having such a young team, Rodriguez believes.

"We're still a pretty young team, just from the standpoint that there aren't a lot of seniors. But there's no question that you don't have as much patience with the veterans. I don't think the veterans are making as many mental mistakes, and that's a positive. Heck, some of them aren't even practicing."

Sunday will give the team a day off from practicing, though there will still be treatments for injured players and film work for the coaching staff. With camp ending next Saturday, Rodriguez hopes to see a lot of improvement in his club between now and then. He also wouldn't mind if the weather would heat up a little bit.

"We need a hard, hard week coming out. I'm talking about the weather being hot, and players pushing themselves through it. We need to sharpen that steel a little bit if you know what I mean."

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