The offense won a few rounds, the defense won a few rounds and there were some stalemates mixed in as the WVU worked out in full pads on Mountaineer Field. Third down conversions dominated the latter portions, with the offense winning the third and shorts (three yards or fewer), the defense dominating on third and long (nine-plus yards) and nearly a 50-50 mix on third and medium (six yards).
The majority of the drills were simple thud-ups, meaning the players simply hit and halted progress instead of tackling to the ground. The safety precaution saves much of the daily wear and tear on the body, as well as nearly eliminating knee injuries. The goal line drills were full tackle.
"I thought the inside drill and the one-on-one went well," Stewart said. "I thought the pass skeleton (seven on seven with the skill players) went well except that the offense dropped a few balls. The defense broke on the ball well. It was very, very good competition. The two-point plays we did, the defense got the upper hand. Coming out (of the end zone), I thought the offense did ok. The goal there is to get the ball from the minus-one to the 25, getting two first downs so you can kick with field position. Then we turned around and went to the goal line on the eight (yard line) with second and goal.
"I really liked the intensity today. I thought it was special. It was pretty combatant. I thought they would be a little sluggish, and they weren't. That was pleasing. They came out and gave a great day's work. I told them they were doing a super job getting treatment, a super job in the weight room and, the way we got after it today, that was very special. That is how it is supposed to be."
In individual drills, Stewart lauded the play of linebackers Mortty Ivy and J.T. Thomas, noting that Ivy controlled much of the Oklahoma drills with several big hits. The physical, tackle-based sessions are geared toward defenders getting off blocks while the offense attempts to seal a running lane. Ivy ripped through several attempted blocks and nailed ball carriers.
"I got out of the way," Stewart said. "He was shocking them. Bang! Mortty Ivy has had the spring of all springs (six days in). Again, J.T. Thomas, they are like heat-seeking missiles. What excited me today was that Anthony Leonard stepped up today at the middle linebacker spot where Reed Williams would normally be. He is the one who hit Noel (Devine) right there in the chin and spun him around on fourth down. We got some plays out of him today. Thus far, Morrty Ivy and J.T. Thomas have had excellent springs."
Stewart also noted that West Virginia's safeties played better today than they had in recent drills. They did, however, allow three huge catches to Wes Lyons. The 6-8 wideout has become increasingly productive since his full mental and physical recovery from a knee injury, attacking the ball at its highest point and securing it by bringing it into his body. He made one grab to convert a third down and nine, another deep over the middle coming out from the end zone, and scored a touchdown by sealing off Quinton Andrews with his bigger frame before extending his arms and pulling in the ball along the sideline. Brandon Hogan and Devine also made nice catches as well. Other than that trio, the receivers dropped multiple passes that should have been caught for decent gains.
Patrick White, Bradley Starks and Jarrett Brown all threw the ball well, and could have increased their yardage totals with some wideout help. The Mountaineers now have nine sessions left, including three scrimmages, before the April 19th Gold-Blue game. Much of that will be spent on finishing all the learning and adjustment to the tweaked systems on both sides.
Note: Julian Miller returned to drills, but did get chopped down during one play. He did not aggravate anything, and will again practice Friday to prepare for Saturday's scrimmage.