Rod Report - Day XIII

West Virginia worked a bit of the two-minute drill, a dash of an overtime session and got just the touch of heat head coach Rich Rodriguez wanted in a two-hour practice under gorgeous, 85-degree skies Friday.

The Mountaineers did not go live, but still had solid physical contact. The enthusiasm was average, and sixth-year head coach Rich Rodriguez said he hopes it will be better Saturday, when WVU holds its final major scrimmage to close fall camp.

"Today they were just happy to get this over with, and tomorrow they will be excited to have camp over with," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully they will have some fun in the scrimmage as well."

The major concerns coming out of the final pure-practice session was defensive lineman Doug Slavonic's high ankle sprain. He was having a very solid camp, but will now be out two weeks, making him questionable for the Sept. 2 opener against Marshall. Linebacker Bobby Hathaway has a foot infection that could take several days to heal. Other than those two, there were no additional injuries, but WVU remains very thin at receiver and would like to get more players back by tomorrow's scrimmage. Tailback Ed Collington returned to practice today, though he looked like he had missed the several days he did. Offensive lineman Greg Isdaner is expected back Monday. The hip sprain of backup bandit Ridwan Malik and Slavonic's injury are the two most pressing injuries coming out of camp.

"When the trainer says two weeks, well, Marshall is in two weeks," Rodriguez said. "I don't know if they will be back by then or not, let alone all the work that they have missed. It is concerning. There is no question that anybody who missed reps, it hurts them."

Rodriguez said he is looking for execution in the final scrimmage in all phases: running the plays right, defensive execution, players going to the correct spots in coverages, etc. WVU will go first team vs. first team, making the mistakes more glaring, so its weaknesses and strengths will show more easily. Lineman Jeremy Sheffey and wideout Darius Reynaud were back on offense. Pat Leibig was in red with a head injury. Most of the rest of the team is sore, which is what the coaching staff wanted. The team will have a chance to rest next week.

Rodriguez said right now most of the offense is in. The rest is just refinement. West Virginia will gear its offense and game plan to Marshall starting the middle of next week. He said the concerns are a lack of depth at receiver, running back and in the secondary ad now on the defensive line. He is also worrying about the penalties and turnovers that often occur in the first game. WVU had five fumbles in the opener against Syracuse last year, but still won 15-7.

Rodriguez –

On being ranked or flying ‘under the radar': "It's probably easier with guys you know are hungry because they have never played. They key is, when you have veterans coming back that you know can play, is that they stay hungry and are the hungry to improve and get better. Staying hungry sounds like coachspeak, but that is the key to all preparation, not even in games. I am talking practice. They have shown that, for the most part, but there have been times we had to remind them.

On LB Mortty Ivy's return: "J.T. Thomas has done well enough as a freshman there to alleviate some concerns. It looks like he will play as a freshman. He might be the only one on defense, but he will be in the mix defensively and on special teams. Max (Anderson) will also play as a freshman. I don't know how much, because he is behind Owen Schmitt. We use them a lot more now. He and Sammy (Morrone) are battling (for the backup spot)."

On his freshmen offensive linemen: "It is a pretty good group. They are pretty athletic. They aren't the biggest, but the are good for what we do. Eric Rodemoyer is making the biggest push to play. He is in a backup role. Part of it is because (Greg) Isdaner is hurt. But I think all those guys have a chance to help us down the road."

On WVU's preseason rankings and publicity: "Some of it that we have got and the guys have got is good for us. We don't want to shy away from it. If you aspire to be a great program, with that comes hype every year. But that still should not change who you are or how you go about business. I feel comfortable that this has not changed how we do business. Publicity is usually not a product of the individual, but a product of the media and who they want to highlight. Some guys clamor and beg and need publicity. I don't think those guys (quarterback Patrick White, tailback Steve Slaton and Schmitt) need it. There are some in the pros that savor that. I think our guys enjoy playing football, and what comes with it, comes with it. It doesn't change what they do."

Notes: * Jason Colson missed practice to attend a wedding.

* The team will spend tonight together at a local hotel for the annual post-fall camp retreat, when players entertain each other with a talent show, among other activities. It provides a chance for comraderie and time together as an entire group off the field.

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