"That was an early wake up," admitted Stewart. "People that say that it doesn't carry over from class room, training room, study hall to the football field do not know what they are talking about. It all carries over to the football field. That was a test today. I am most appreciative to how the Mountaineers responded this morning."
Tuesday began at 5:00 a.m. for the Mountaineer freshmen who had their tape viewing first. The sophomores followed at 5:15 a.m. and the juniors and seniors had their viewing at 5:30 a.m. It was a test of mental discipline as much as a physical one, as arising and paying attention in the wee hours taxes the mind as well as the body. Overall, Stewart was happy with his team's answering of the early bell.
Stewart seemed more pleased with the Mountaineers' early morning efforts than any other practice this spring. As usual, he had praise for the defense, and singled out a couple of players that have made progress during the first third of spring drills.
"Pat Lazear, he's coming," said Stewart. "(Lazear) was running with the ones today. He's kind of earned his spurs there. I'm really happy with what he's done. I thought J.T. (Thomas) had another good day." Lazear, who is being tried at the strong side linebacker position, could help solidify the spot vacated by Mortty Ivy's departure. He, along with Thomas and Reed Williams, who missed the day due to illness, are the early frontrunners for starting spots in the linebacking corps.
"He was very, very sick yesterday," said Stewart of Williams. "He's in the training room. I told them to keep him down there because we don't want anyone else getting sick."
The young offensive line is still working to get up to par with the much more experienced defense. Stewart believes that the two lines are still very uneven in skill level.
"Defensively, I saw Scooter Berry really push the pocket," said Stewart. "I saw him really push the pocket. That was nice to see. Chris Neild really pushes the pocket. They're beating the offensive line up."
The last half hour of the early morning practice was spent working on the Mountaineers' ability to get the ball down the field in the passing game.
"There's a lot of work to be done," said Stewart, "I saw some nice play today by Jarrett Brown. I thought Coley White did better in the pocket. I thought he did good in the pocket. Brown just has a great feel back there."
The receivers continued with their impressive spring. Sophomore Bradley Starks changed into a white jersey Tuesday morning, which allowed his first day of full contact, after wearing green (limited participation) during the first four practice sessions.
"Wes Lyons just keeps stepping up and so does Alric Arnett," said Stewart. "Bradley Starks was in a white shirt so (the defense) could bang him. We got Will Johnson back for noncontact stuff because he got his head banged up."
So does Stewart believe that his players pass the early morning test?
"It's like they said in (the movie Heartbreak Ridge,)" said Stewart. "We're paid to adapt, improvise, and overcome. That's what we were trying to do. You throw them some curve balls. I thought today they did a nice job with the curveballs."