Rod Report - VIII

Atmosphere upped the intensity of West Virginia's second spring scrimmage, noted by head coach Rich Rodriguez to be a key in developing a two deep.

The session, held in the Caperton Indoor Facility because of weather, lasted 75 minutes and showcased the offense, as it had a short, 60-yard field due to the structure having just 80 yards in all. The tight quarters and louder setting added to the urgency, as players competed to remain starters – or bump others in front.

One of the main battles was expected to be at tailback, where Ed Collington, Eddie Davis and Jet Best are vying for the backup job behind starter Steve Slaton, who is not taking part in contract drills after wrist surgery. But the expected elevation in play never developed as all took snaps with the first, second and third teams without any breakout in play. Collington did score once, and Jason Gwaltney showed some tough running between the tackles.

"I thought Eddie Davis ran pretty hard and Ed Collington did some good things," Rodriguez said. "Jet Best did a lot of good things. But that's an ongoing battle."

The standout at receiver was Nate Sowers, who along with Wes Lyons and Dorrell Jalloh, pulled in the vast majority of the passes. Sowers had a great grab along the sidelines and finished another drive with a score.

"I think Nate is getting comfortable there," Rodriguez said. "I keep reminding myself that he has only been there full time for a couple of weeks. I think, with our security situation at quarterback, that Nate can make an impact out there. We'll keep him there."

The wideouts might have benefited from the coverage switches made by the coaching staff. WVU is repping multiple looks and coverages to see both what works and what the squad can execute. It led to the secondary thinking more than simply reading and reacting, but that's fine during the experimental spring drills. Antonio Lewis and Larry Williams – who Rodriguez said had a great winter in the weight room – made interceptions, and the defense did get several stops, both forcing fourth downs and forcing fumbles.

"More than anything, it's to see if we can change-up and still maybe play some two-deep stuff," Rodriguez said. "You have to practice it, and spring is the time to experiment."

The defense wasn't the lone nit with problems, however. The ball seemingly went backward as much as it advanced in some portions of the scrimmage, which ranged from very crisp and quick to slow and grueling.

"We had some mistakes, some penalties that we have to get corrected," Rodriguez said. "Most of that was from the third group, so I quit giving them as many reps. They were giving us a lot of headaches. I am looking more at execution and assignments. It seemed like it was a bit of both. There were mistakes on both sides. The offense scored some touchdowns on some big plays, but I don't know whether that was good execution on offense or bad execution on defense.

"This is the fewest amount of route packages we have put in in several years. It is by design. We wanted to get good at a handful of them before we move on. A lot of that is we are trying to get some of these young receivers up to speed. They have been ok. I don't think it is at the level we need it to be, though."

Note: Rodriguez plans to talk to reserve quarterback Adam Bednarik about taking some snaps at slot wideout. The senior's arm is getting better every day, and he is making most of the throws demanded. But the talent in front of him makes game snaps a long shot at best barring injury.

"I'll have to talk to Adam about that," Rodriguez said. "We'll se how it progresses. He is coming up on is final year, and, heck, everybody knows how good Pat is, and certainly the know how good Jarrett is. Adam is one of the better athletes on the team, and we'll have to find some creative ways to get those three guys on the field. That will be our job over the summer."

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