The Mountaineer football team returned to practice on Wednesday afternoon short on numbers and short on enthusiasm. Despite being suited in full pads for the afternoon workout at Milan Puskar Stadium, the intensity level was surprisingly low.
After practice head coach Bill Stewart -- in his shortest press conference of the spring -- said, "We hit the snooze button today." To correct the situation and get the team's attention, he informed the media that tomorrow at 6 A.M the team will be expected for a morning workout.
Practice started with the offense and defense practicing goal line plays starting at the 10 yard line. Quarterbacks Pat White and Jarrett Brown shared the majority of the snaps while Bradley Starks split time between wide receiver and quarterback. Will Johnson continued to line up at the tight end/h-back position, and received plenty of reps with the first-team offense.
The team then came together as the offense ran plays on the defense. Linebacker play remained steady and was led by the play of senior Mortty Ivy. In the secondary, cornerback Ellis Lankster was the star today showing impressive closing speed breaking up several passes including a crushing hit on Noel Devine in the flat which jarred the ball from Devine's grasp.
Wide receiver Alric Arnett was impressive for the offense, hauling in several passes in the team drill including a catch on the tips of his toes along the sideline. Wes Lyons corralled a fade route from Pat White during team drills, outfighting the coverage of Lankster at the pylon for a score. Bradley Stark also caught passes in the drill and even had a carry off of a reverse. Slot receiver Brandon Hogan picked up where he left off after his impressive showing in the team's first scrimmage on Saturday, catching passes over the middle and showing break away speed in the secondary.
After team drills, the Mountaineers split into their individual position groups. The running backs worked on ball security drill with coach Chris Beatty swinging a pad at the ball like a bat while the quarterbacks and receivers ran pass patterns. The offensive line hit the sleds and worked on their blocking technique under the watchful eye of offensive line coach Dave Johnson. Former WVU All-American and longtime NFL lineman Rich Braham was on hand observing the offensive line all afternoon. The defensive line and linebackers ran plays on a team made up of the second team defense. The quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs then came together to practice their passing game with no defense.
The practice concluded with the defensive line and offensive line working on the inside running game while the quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs ran pass patterns. Starks showed promise as a receiver in the drill on a deep ball throw by White along the sideline. Starks elevated and made a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone.
West Virginia will workout again on Friday afternoon, and hold a morning scrimmage on Saturday.