I Don't Get Much Sleep During Camp

WVU assistant football coach Bill Stewart pulls extra duty as the quarterback coach and special teams coordinator, which keeps him hopping during fall camp.

"I meet with the kickers at different times," Stewart said of the schedule juggling that requires him to be with one, but not both,groups of his charges during practices. "It's not quite as difficult as you might think, though. They're not just running around on their own like a bunch of unsupervised sheep. It's very structured."

With the kickers spending a good portion of practice on a different field from the rest of the team, Stewart can't keep an eye on them every moment. However, he's comfortable with the relationships that he's built with his kicking staff.

"The kickers chart themselves, and I have to trust them. They know they are in competition. They chart every kick they take, from every hash, from every yard line. The form we have for them is really simple to use and fill out."

Stewart then uses those charts to help him assess how his kickers are performing. The veteran coach doesn't, however, use those as his sole basis of evaluation.

"We have a manager and a grad assistant with them, and then I try to slip away (from the quarterbacks) and do some things with them. Even the head coach looks in from time to time.

"And as you know, we do a lot of kicking in practice. We don't just do pre-practice and post-practice stuff. We do a lot of kicking during practice."

One of the goals of kicking in practice is to keep pressure on the kickers, so they'll be accustomed to it when they are faced with big kicks during games. To that end, the staff has been discussing and implementing some new practice methods.

"We talked during our staff meetings about doing more 'hurry hurry' kicking during practice. We will work on running our "Fast NASCAR" team onto the field to get off kicks and simulate late game situations."

In practicing these late game situations, the staff might put the ball down and start counting down an imaginary game clock from 15 seconds while requiring the kicking team to sprint onto the field, line up, and get the kick away successfully before the clock runs out. Like any othter practice situation, it's designed to get the players acclimated to game situations.

Stewart likes these types of drills, and believes that the kicking staff will respond well to them.

"They're always on the clock, they're always being charted. Sometimes we have the whole team looking on while they are kicking. They're going to compete."

And from this crucible of competition, kickers will emerge who will hit those last second field goals and boom those important punts to give the Mountaineers a special teams edge.

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