Spring Practice Report - 4/4/08

The Mountaineers took the field under overcast skies on Friday for the seventh of 15 spring football workouts.

Roughly 450 high school and small college coaches traveled to Morgantown on Friday afternoon to observe day seven of spring practice for the West Virginia football team as part of the annual coaches convention at Milan Puskar Stadium.

The hundreds of coaches in attendance witnessed a spirited practice as the Mountaineers prepared for their first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday afternoon. The practice opened with the quarterbacks and receivers working on their accuracy and catching ability. The quarterbacks dropped back and fired ten yards passes at the receivers while running backs coach Chris Beatty pounded the receivers with pads. The drill was designed to help catching and throwing the ball over the middle in tight spaces.

The defensive backs began by working on their footwork and pass coverage while the offensive linemen worked on their blocking and foot work with the defensive linemen. >[?The players then broke, with the offensive linemen joining up with the quarterbacks and receivers to practice the inside running game. Quarterbacks Pat White and Jarrett Brown traded snaps while Noel Devine shouldered the load at running back. The wide receivers and defensive backs took the opposite end of the field to run pass patterns and practice coverage.

In the latest experiment of the spring, wide receiver Will Johnson lined up in the backfield at fullback and played tight end as coach Bill Stewart continues to search for a replacement to Owen Schmitt. Johnson took a couple handoffs in the inside running drills and showed good speed on the couple carries he had running in between the tackles.

The team then transitioned in seven on seven drills and for the first the first time this spring the offense outplayed the defense. Quarterback Pat White threw several good passes including two long completions to wide receiver Tito Gonzales. White also completed a long pass to receiver Wes Lyons who caught the ball nicely over his shoulder before getting popped by free safety Franchot "Boogie" Allen.

The two stars on offense today in practice were White and Gonzales. White looked good throwing the ball, displaying a strong arm and making good reads to hit Gonzales on several occasions. Gonzales looked impressive catching a screen pass and running past everyone into the end zone for a long touchdown run.

The team concluded practice with the offense lined up against the defense. Johnson looked impressive in the passing game lining up at tight end and caused mismatches in coverage with the linebackers. The team offense showed a fast tempo in practice getting in and out of the huddle quickly and at times running plays without a huddle. Stewart expressed disappointment afterwards in the offense's inability to get open at times during Friday's drills.

On Saturday the team will have its first scrimmage of the spring. Coach Stewart said that he is looking for "about 60-70 good plays," while executing at a fast tempo with high enthusiasm.

BlueGoldNews.com will have plenty of coverage from Saturday's scrimmage including photo galleries, audio, player features and much, much more.

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