Spring Practice Report: Day Six

Wide receiver Wes Lyons and quarterback Jarrett Brown continued to find success as West Virginia's spring drills continued early Wednesday evening at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Lyons, a 6-foot-8 senior, has blossomed thus far in the spring after being moved from the boundary into the slot receiver position.

While the move may be a bit unconventional, as the typical slot receiver is more often a small, quick player like former star Darius Reynaud, it's paid off thus for Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart and his assistants.

"I thought it was a brilliant move by our offensive staff," Stewart said. "I've said that before and I'm going to stick by it until we see anything different.

"He could even be in the tight end role on back side, running drag routes and things like that. I'm really pleased with what he's done."

Lyons hauled in two deep passes down the middle in pass skeleton drills near the end of practice Wednesday. Both plays started at the offense's own 20-yard line and featured Lyons cutting up the seam of WVU's 3-3-5 defense.

The North Braddock, Pa., native got between the safeties on both plays and hauled in a pair of well-thrown balls from Brown.

"That's six pretty good practices (for Lyons)," Stewart said. "It's a blessing. Sometimes guys, when they're healthy, can really step up and do some things. We just pray he keeps injury free. That's been the whole thing with Wes."

Lyons' offensive teammates largely dominated the day, as the West Virginia defense struggled with Reed Williams, its emotional leader, limited due to illness.

"It wasn't lack of effort," Stewart said of his defense. "It was lack of one guy -- 47 (Williams). The nest was empty of leadership. I didn't like the leadership I saw today."

The Mountaineer offense took advantage of Williams' absence and the defense's struggles in live-action drills at the end of practice.

Running back Noel Devine, who returned to practice after leaving town last weekend to attend a funeral, had a few highlight-reel rushes.

The speedster took one handoff around left end and slipped a pair of tackles near the sideline before cutting back into the middle for a 19-yard gain. On the next play, Devine ran left again for six more yards and a touchdown, going nearly untouched on his path to the end zone.

"It was really nice to have No. 7 (Devine) back," Stewart said. "Boy, does he bring some electricity to the plan? He hit some holes quick and it was really fun to watch."

Brown, West Virginia's senior signal-caller, also had another impressive day.

The quarterback executed a play-action fake to near-perfection near the end of practice, baiting the defense into inching forward before uncorking a tight spiral into the waiting hands of an open Alric Arnett for an easy 40-yard touchdown.

In earlier skeleton drills, Brown also found success. On top of the aforementioned completions to Lyons, the West Palm Beach, Fla., native rolled left to generate more time against good coverage.

He then found Carmen Connolly crossing the defense and fired a pass low and towards the near sideline around 15 yards down-field, where only Connolly could catch it. The senior receiver dove and made a sliding catch just in bounds.

Brown also found Bradley Starks in a soft spot in the WVU zone defense. Only a well-timed hit delivered by defensive back Boogie Allen kept the offense from another 20-yard completion.

Near the beginning of practice, as the team focused on position drills, Brown and his receivers worked on timing patterns while facing no defense.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen instructed his quarterback to deliver the ball before his receiver even broke from a comeback route towards the near sideline.

Brown proceeded to fire a strike low and to the outside shoulder of receiver Logan Heastie, who was in perfect position after making his move on the route.

Mullen repeatedly yelled "Unstoppable!" to both players afterwards, apparently pleased with both the timing of the route and the throw on at least that particular pass.

"Jarrett Brown is really grasping what we're trying to do offensively," Stewart said. "He had a couple of things he maybe could have done a little bit better, but there were some really fine reads and I thought he threw the ball really well today."

West Virginia will take Thursday afternoon off and resume its drills Friday afternoon. Stewart said a crowd of around 500 coaches are expected to attend.

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