Rod Report – Day IX

West Virginia's practice session seemed spirited Monday, and was better than its Saturday scrimmage. Head coach Rich Rodriguez wants that effort on a more routine basis.

The Mountaineers enter their final week of fall camp not having been tested after seven days of rain, class disruptions and a lack of intensity and focus that had Rodriguez calling it a "country club" atmosphere. That began to change with what appeared, at least in the first hour of drills, to be better play in terms of concentration than what was shown last week. West Virginia practices twice on Tuesday and Thursday and once each on Wednesday and Friday before a final scrimmage ends fall camp. Classes begin Aug. 20, and there are just 18 more days until the season opener at home versus Western Michigan.

"We are trying to get everybody ready to play right now," Rodriguez said. "Nobody is ready. (The practice) was better than Saturday, but I could get (the media) out there and do better than what we did Saturday. They knew it. I am not going to pat them on the rear for having a decent practice. They are supposed to practice like that all the time. Let's do it at the end of the week, with the same intensity and enthusiasm, and they will get good words. Right now it's just better than it was."

Wideouts Nate Sowers and Adam Bednarik played with the first team offense and performed well. They mixed in with Darius Reynaud in a three-wide look; Fullback Owen Schmitt split time between there and tight end. WVU had four other receivers hurt: Alric Arnett, Will Johnson, Tito Gonzales and Wes Lyons.

"Nate Sowers and Adam Bednarik are good athletes and they are going to play out there," Rodriguez said two days after noting that Bednarik had made several very good plays at quarterback during the scrimmage. Sowers is only working at wideout. "We are going to try to get the best guys on the field to help us win. Adam and Nate can help us win."

Three offensive lineman missed time with drills, and Derek Hayes, with the absence of Eric Rodemoyer, took snaps with the first team at right guard. The backup slot, behind Rodemoyer, had belonged to John Bradshaw, wh worked with the second team. Eric Jobe remains at nose guard for right now, though two injures along the front (James Ingram and Johnny Dingle) forced starting tackle Keilen Dykes into the starting role at nose. He was flanked by Mike Bilokonsky at tackle and Scooter Berry, still recovering from an elbow injury, at end. Timetables for players' return were unavailable.

The defensive backfield continued to shuffle, with Eric Wicks and Quinton Andrews the first- and second-team bandits. The first three linebackers were Reed Williams in the middle with JT Thomas at will and John Holmes at sam. The spurs were Ridwan Malik (ones) and Chuck Pugh (twos). Boogie Allen was the starting free safety, with Michigan transfer Ryan Mundy behind him. The cornerbacks were a mix of six players: Vaughn Rivers, Larry Williams, Antonio Lewis – who rotated with the first team – and Kent Richardson, Guesly Dervil and Ellis Lankster, who played with the second and third units.

"I don't know if any of them can start, but they are battling for playing time," Rodriguez said. "That is probably the most competitive position we got. I have been pretty pleased thus far."

RIFLE REPORTS

Rodriguez said he would know in two weeks if true freshman linebacker Pat Lazear would play this season. He is currently seeing some action on special teams, but if he does not see significant time at linebacker, there is a chance he could be redshirted.

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The punt returners will be a mix of Rivers, Lewis, Lankster, Noel Devine and Quinton Andrews.

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Walk-ons Charlie Taylor and Travis Buttrey have quit. Taylor played at Class AAA state champion Parkersburg High. Buttrey played at Class A power Williamstown.

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Devine (RB/slot WR), Brandon Hogan (WR), Jock Sanders (slot WR) and Johnson (WR) continue to battle for time in their first season in the program. Rodriguez said they are still trying to process much of the offense. The players have been off-limits to media for the first week, and remain so of now.

"We have quite a few that have an opportunity to help us and we are trying to get them to learn as much as possible while it is all football," Rodriguez said. "There are some quicker than others Iin learning the system). Some have a great knack and have picked it up. Those are the ones (Hogan and Sanders) who played in a similar offense."


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