WVU Football Practice Report - 8/5

Cooler, overcast skies greeted West Virginia's football team for its fourth practice of the 2008 preseason.

The clouds threatened rain, but WVU agin dodged precipitation as it continued its fall football practice. Again taking the field on the floor of the Stadium (wondering if WVU will use its grass field this fall), Day Four was pretty much a repetition of the first three days of fall camp. Installation of offensive plays and defensive sets, as well as reactions to audibles and changes, were again the order of the day. The Mountaineer coaching staff continues with its strategy of throwing as much as possible at the team, and especially the newcomers, to see which ones can learn and respond under pressure, which is the pathway to avoiding a redshirt and seeing some playing time.

* * *

Special teams work, while certainly not ignored in previous seasons, continues to get a little extra time, perhaps a period's worth, each day. Safeties coach Steve Dunlap, who handles the outside blockers on the punt team, has been quite enthusiastic in instructing his charges in proper technique. The outside blockers not only have to stop the rush, but also have to get downfield in coverage, and do so in reasonable order. If one player lags behind or gets out of his lane, a big return can ensue. However, the flip side is that a player leaving too soon can open up a path for a blocked punt. There is a lot more to special teams than simply charging up and down the field or kicking the ball, and attention to those details has been evident early on.

Work on all of the different punts in WVU's arsenal got work, as did the hurry up field goal set, termed "NASCAR" by the coaching staff.

* * *

There is still on word on Pat Liebig's appeal for a sixth year of eligibility. However, D.J. Thomas has arrived, and joined the running backs and slot receivers for his first day as a Mountaineer. He looks to be around five feet, eight inches, and is wearing number 2. WVU is still waiting on final Clearinghouse approval for Thomas, who has excellent speed.

* * *

While the line depth is certainly a concern while Liebig's status is determined, there are some good things to note up front. Zac Cooper and Julian Miller both appear bigger and more defined, and while Miller isn't the second coming of Casey Hampton, he now could have the strength and leverage to make a contribution up front. A rotation of Chris Nield, Scooter Berry, Cooper, Larry Ford, Doug Slavonic, Liebig and Miller would be very good, and perhaps give the option of redshirting players such as Uriah Grant, D.J. Shaw and Jimmie Carmack. That's not to write those players off yet, but simply to note that they, like many newcomers, probably aren't ready to step into a major role just yet. However, if Liebig is flagged, at least of them might be forced into action at some point.

* * *

Wes Lyons (knee) and Bradley Starks (leg) were in red, and participated by dragging weights and other onerous chores as they missed drills. If that's not a motivation to return to practice, nothing is.

* * *

Wednesday will be the team's first day of full contact, while the first two-a-day drills will come on Thursday.

* * *

Former WVU coach Don Nehlen, looking well considering his recent hospital stay for triple-bypass heart surgery, put in an appearance at practice.


BlueGoldNews Top Stories