Sunday In The Sun

West Virginia conducted its second practice of the 2008 preseason in perfect weather conditions on the floor of Milan Puskar Stadium.

The Mountaineers again concentrated on fundamentals during the early practice periods, but mixed in special teams work and squad elements of its offense and defense. Following are some observations from Sunday afternoon's workout.

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Field goal, field goal block, punt and punt block teams got their first extended looks of the fall. Pat McAfee did nothing to harm his possession of both kicking jobs, drilling several placekicks from different angles and bombing a 62-yard punt that cut through the air like a laser.

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Work on special teams, as well as the overall offense and defense, is broken down into units. For example, the outside blocking units on the punt protection team were separated from the interior blockers, with each receiving separate instruction. That unit work will then be merged into run throughs for each team.

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Linebacker play continues to stand out. Typically, there's a discernable dropoff when backups run through drills, but WVU can put three complete sets through their paces without a detriment to performance. The linebackers as a group move extremely well and show solid technique in Jeff Casteel's revamped drills. With John Holmes and Archie Sims back in uniform, WVU might have its deepest core of linebackers ever.

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Attention to detail and technique is constant, even during something as mundane as pre-practice stretching. During lower body work, all skill position players carry a football and concentrate on ball security while jogging and lunging up and down the field. Coaches occasionally step in and take a shot at trying to knock the ball loose.

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Despite the time away from the game, defensive lineman Pat Liebig looks sharp in his technique. He's quickly fallen back into the routine of line coach Bill Kirelawich. He, along with Chris Neild and Uriah Grant, are getting the bulk of the work at nose.

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Kick returners getting chances included Brandon Hogan, Jock Sanders, Ellis Lankster and Guesley Dervil.

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Ryan Stanchek was again in red, the only player set for action on this year's team that was unavailable for full duty. He did manage to sneak in some one-on-one reps, however. Chad Snodgrass (shoulder) and Brantwon Bowser (knee) both jogged and circled the field. Bowser is progressing well, and should be able to play next spring.


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