One of West Virginia's 2008 issues, short yardage plays, were a feature of the Friday practice, which was moved up an hour to allow several players to make late afternoon tests. Contact and physical play was the watchword of the day, as WVU worked on short yardage situations from a variety of field positions. The Mountaineers performed a number of inside drills, and worked on short yardage offense both "going in" toward the end zone and "coming out" with the goal line at its back.
WVU worked out of the I formation for many of these players with Ricky Kovatch as the lead blocker and Ryan Clarke dotting the I. Clarke, who has reshaped his body from a year ago and is an imposing presence in the backfield, ran hard and made a good case for himself as the power back in short yardage situations.
WVU is not going to become an exclusive I formation team, however. With diversity of formation figuring to be a big part of West Virginia's offensive system, the Mountaineers also ran a number of plays out of its standard shotgun formation. With the varied alignments, WVU hopes to be able to give opposing defenses more to prepare for.
Of course, that's predicated on good execution, and that wasn't on display on Friday. Head coach Bill Stewart expressed his displeasure with the offense's overall performance, which certainly was not the equivalent of the defense's showing. That's to be expected at this point in the spring, especially with the losses suffered on the offensive side of the ball.
Cornerback Eddie Davis had an impressive pass break-up during one coming out sequence, and earned praise from assistant coach David Lockwood. Davis could be priming himself to make a move into the two-deep at corner.
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Noel Devine was not at practice, but his absence, reportedly for a personal matter, was an excused one.
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Spur Sidney Glover apparently tweaked a hamstring, but the injury did not appear to be serious.
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The battles between offensive and defensive linemen heated up practice drills. On the defensive side, redshirt freshman Jorge Wright earned praise for his play. Offensively, Donny Barclay and Selvish Capers, along with Josh Jenkins, had a good day of work.