Still, coming off spring break and having held just one session yesterday to ease back into drills, the Mountaineers are beginning to see the end of the 14 practices and are gearing down at times – something that must be avoided. The team seemed especially confused on one line drill, and Rodriguez had to repeatedly explain it.
"It was there at times and it wasn't there at times," Rodriguez said of the intensity and focus. "That was a little disappointing. It was the 13th practice and I think guys are still a little bit on spring break and a little bit looking to the end. Our guys understand that to be at a championship level, we have to play hard all the time. The veterans understand that. The young guys are still learning."
Adam Bednarik was at wideout for the second consecutive practice, and managed to block reasonably well while he settles in. He was in a gold jersey (no contact because of being a quarterback), an upgrade from his green (slight injury, limited contact). He did not catch a pass.
"He is full go," Rodriguez said. "He obviously played quarterback, but he will play a little receiver, too. He is a good athlete."
Rodriguez also explained his spring game format, and the setup of the scrimmage, saying that WVU "doesn't have 10 healthy offensive linemen, so it will be a short scrimmage. Most of the evaluation, 90 percent, is done before that. We will go offense against defense. I'd like to have enough healthy bodies to split it up. But most of the Division I schools do not have enough to do that. It's live and you get to see guys in game-like conditions. There are no coaches on the field. We can't stand behind them; they have nobody helping them out. We'll see if they figure it out on their own, or have their teammates help them. That's what I want to see."
The lack of bodies on the line has hindered its development a bit. Veteran leaders like Ryan Stanchek have emerged a bit, but the staff would still like to see more linemen break out, both as a leader and in execution. That's in contrast with the cornerback position, where an influx of talent and numbers has put a backlog at the spot.
"I think (Greg) Isdaner would have some leadership qualities, but he is out this spring. I think (center Mike) Dent will eventually have it, but he is still trying to figure hisway out. We don't have a senior on the line, period, but as long as they know what to do it won't be a problem. (Junior college transfer) Ellis Lankster is getting better (at corner). (Larry) Williams, Vaughn Rivers and Antonio Lewis have also had good springs. The guy that has really improved is Kent Richardson. He is a guy that we needed to get better, and from what I have seen, he is one of the most improved players on defense."
WVU will practice in full pads and use the last true practice, on Wednesday, as another evaluation problem. Situational work, like red zone and third downs, will also be drilled. The players will have Thursday and Friday off before Saturday's Gold-Blue game, which kicks at 12:30 p.m.
"People will have a chance to see some of our younger guys," Rodriguez said. "I think we have some exciting young guys. I am still debating. Pat White will be off limits, but the other quarterbacks, at times, I might let go live. People can see that. It will be kind of bland. I am not so much worried about what people will see as much as I am that you don't wan your guys being confused. You want them ou there playing fast, and the simpler you can keep the schemes, the faster they can play."
Note: Jarrett Brown was one of the Mountaineers who missed the majority of practice. Rivers arrived midway through.