Practice Report - Day IX

Skeleton drills and opportunities for reserve players along both lines highlighted the first hour of West Virginia's Monday practice.

The Mountaineers, minus multiple proven playmakers at wide receiver and depth along the defensive line, took further hits there after Saturday's scrimmage. Wideouts Tito Gonzales, Alric Arnett and Will Johnson were in red (no-contact) jerseys, while linemen Johnny Dingle and James Ingram were out along the front of the odd stack set. Offensive linemen Frank Carduff and Eric Rodemoyer were out with leg injuries and Kansas State transfer John Hafferty, a 6-2, 300-pounder from Alpharetta, Ga. wore a boot around his ankle. Hafferty is not eligible to play this season. Those injuries add to those of Wes Lyons (hamstring) and Marc Magro, who is battling mono. Magro walked the field but did not practice.

With Rodemoyer's absence, John Bradshaw is now behind Derek Hayes on the line. That position battles were more difficult to gauge this week, both because of the injuries and the myriad of moves being made by the coaching staff. With Ingram and Dingle out, the first team defensive line was Keilen Dykes at nose guard, Mike Bilokonsky at tackle and Scooter Berry, who is nursing an elbow injury, at end. The offensive front showed Mike Dent at center, Ryan Stanchek at left tackle, Greg Isdaner at left guard, Hayes at right guard and Jake Figner at right tackle. Owen Schmitt played both tight end and fullback, and when he was removed, Mike Villagrana slid into the vacated spot. The first-team wideouts were Darius Reynaud, Nate Sowers and Adam Bednarik, though Dorrell Jalloh will certainly figure into the mix. Pat White and Steve Slaton rounded out the initial 11.

On defense, the line was jumbled with its few numbers. The first-string of linebackers showed Reed Williams in the middle with JT Thomas at will and John Holmes at mike. The corners were a rotation of Larry Williams, Vaughn Rivers and Antonio Lewis. Eric Wicks manned the bandit spot with Boogie Allen at free safety. The spur was Ridwan Malik.

Chuck Pugh was the second-team spur. Michigan transfer Ryan Mundy was at free, Quinton Andrews at bandit, with corners again rotating with the addition of Kent Richardson and, at times, Gusley Dervil. The linebackers were Bobby Hathaway, Mortty Ivy and Ovid Goulbourne. All are subject to chance, and WVU rotated many players in and out.

It appears Pat McAfee continues to move further ahead of backup punter Scott Kozlowski. McAfee boomed his punts and showcased better height and hang time. Kozlowski, a very solid collegiate punter, would likely be a first-teamer on many other squads, but McAfee's ability to place kicks and his leg strength, combined with his penchant for tackling well in the open field and athleticism, might prove difficult to overcome. The Plum, Pa. native also hit all his field goals from 46 yards and in with snapper-holder combination Adam Hughes and Jeremy Kash executing well.

The punt returners were Rivers, Lewis, Noel Devine, Ellis Lankster and Andrews. That will be a battle that will likely come down to the final week of practice before the season-opener at home versus Western Michigan. Devine, who flashes speed and cutting ability, is still having problems finding his footing. That will pass in time. Rivers is the most sure-handed of the foursome and will get looks when the team needs a punt caught more than a big return. WVU did not work on kickoff or return when media were present.

The wideouts, despite their lack of numbers, continued to work well in practice. One drill had a receiver passing in front of another as a ball was released from the jugs machine. The front wideout put his hands up to block the other receiver's sight of the ball, as would a DB. It's a concentration drill that will serve the team well in games this year. West Virginia started its practice, after the base position drills, with the W drill and a series of battles where a ball carrier attempts to navigate through a 10-yard wide area while there are individual battles between an offense and defensive lineman, a linebacker and a running back and a wideout and a secondary player.

The Mountaineers will conclude their final week of fall camp with two-a-days on Tuesday and Thursday and practices on Wednesday and Friday before the final scrimmage. Fan day is Sunday. WVU will hold its media day Saturday.

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