Day Four: WVU Spring Football Practice

West Virginia worked on its passing game on Saturday, and the results were more encouraging that Friday's struggling run game work.

The practice, the first in full pads this spring, was conducted in the Stadium under overcast, but pleasant, conditions. The offense worked a great deal on passing situations, especially in the red zone, running a number of different sets and patterns from the ten-yard line and in.

Wes Lyons had one of the best practices of his career, catching no fewer than five scoring passes in the red zone work. Lyons showed the ability to find openings in the defense and settled in them nicely to grab the passes. Several of those came along the back line of the end zone, and another came on a curl route just inside the goal line. Although Lyons still struggles to use his height to its greatest advantage, he did show better field awareness and made catches with more fluidity than he has in past seasons.

Also flashing into notice was slot receiver Carmen Connolly, who had a good day catching passes in the middle of the field. During skeleton (seven-on-seven) drills, Connolly showed good hands while snaring several passes from Mountaineer quarterbacks.

With receivers having a better day, the natural inference would be that Jarrett Brown did likewise, and that assumption is correct. Brown showed good field awareness and threw the ball very accurately. He did not suffer any interceptions and at one point completed 11 passes in a row in skeleton drills. Brown looks to be growing more comfortable in WVU's expanded passing game, and that maturation will be critical for WVU's offensive hopes for the 2009 season.

The defensive highlights weren't as plentiful as they were on Friday, but a few stars were handed out. Defensive back Courtney Stuart had a nice pass breakup on a ball intended for Lyons, and linebacker Name Goode picked off a curl route thrown by Coley White and returned it for a would-be score.

The offensive and defensive lines squared off for pass rush/blocking one-on-ones, with the defenders holding a bit of an advantage in the competition. Scooter Berry continued to show his dominance with several good moves and hits on the "quarterback" – a full-sized tackling dummy positioned at the Abs spot in the pocket.

A couple of position moves were noted on the day. Jeff Braun was at the number one offensive guard spot in place of Matt Timmerman, while Jordan Roberts, who was moved to safety for the start of drills, went back to running back to help fill the absence created by Noel Devine, who remains out of state for a funeral. Marc Rodgers, Mike Pointier and Ryan Clarke also got some snaps at the tailback spot, with Clarke's coming on short yardage plays. Pointier had one of the nicer runs of the day, a shifty seven-yard TD scamper with the second team.

On special teams, Tyler Bitancurt and Scott Kozlowski continued to strengthen their cases for starting slots. Bitternut hit a pair of good kicks, and although his boots don't get up as quickly as they might, his increased range and leg strength are apparent. Kozlowski hit several booming punts, from both the rugby and regular punt alignments, and looks to be very comfortable in his first string spot.

On the injury front, Sidney Glover (hamstring), Ovid Goulbourne (shoulder) Zac Hulce (knee) and Ja'tavious Miller were in red shirts and unavailable for contact work.

Approximately 200 Mountaineer Maniacs attended the practice session, and were treated to pizza afterward by head coach Bill Stewart and the football staff.

Practice continues next week with a morning session on Tuesday.


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