Spring Practice Report - 4/11/08

West Virginia's renewed enthusiasm was dampened only by the weather as it took to the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility due to lightning storms on Friday.

The team had a much more enthusiastic practice following an uninspired Wednesday session that prompted a 6:00 a.m. Thursday meeting that head coach Bill Stewart described as a "bonding session". Practice began with individual drills. The quarterbacks and receivers worked on pass patterns while the offensive line worked their blocking technique. On defense, the defensive backs worked on their footwork while the linebackers worked on shedding blocks under the guidance of defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.

The offense then immediately transitioned into a full-team set to run plays in a two-minute drill with no defense in front of them. Will Johnson again lined up at the tight end position and even took some carries out of the backfield. The coaches seemed to be stressing tempo in the drill, especially wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway who continually yelled at the offense to, "Get on the Ball!" The wide receivers continued running seven on seven drills sans defense as the offensive line broke off to practice their blocking schemes. Offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen had his quarterbacks doing something to make sure that each quarterback kept moving. All four quarterbacks took snaps and threw simultaneously to four receivers who each ran different patterns.

Each quarterback looked impressive, hitting their receivers in stride consistently. Jarrett Brown continues to progress in the offense and showed off his strong arm in the drills. Quarterback Bradley Starks spent time throwing the ball with the quarterbacks as well as catching passes with the receivers. The offensive line then came back over to take on the defensive line and linebackers in the inside running game. Noel Devine came to practice late due to class, allowing Mike Portier to take the bulk of the snaps at running back. The linebackers impressed yet again, with drills lead by J.T. Thomas, who consistently made solid contact with the running backs.

The defensive backs then came over to challenge the quarterbacks and receivers in seven on seven drills. Today, the quarterbacks and receivers showed a better understanding of the offense and consistently were able to move the football on the defense. On the first play in the drill Pat White hit receiver Tito Gonzalez on a quick slant pattern that Gonzalez took for a long gain. The team concluded practice with the team offense matched against the team defense. Jock Sanders and Brandon Hogan once again showed superior athleticism both running and catching the football. The highlight of the practice came on the final play when Brown rolled out to his right and threw a deep pass down the sidelines to hit receiver Alric Arnett for a long touchdown. The offense followed Arnett into the end zone and celebrated the final touchdown as the horn sounded to end the 16-session drills.

High School sophomore Kevin Freeland from James Wood High School in Winchester, Va. attended practice. Freeland has a very serious brain tumor and was a special guest of WVU and the team. To conclude practice the players came together and chanted, "Kevin!" to honor the guest.

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