Stew's Views: Day Six

While the sixth of West Virginia's 15 spring practices happened to fall on first day of April, Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart was hardly in the mood to laugh by the end of the two-hour session.

Sure, Stewart could have placed the spotlight on an offense had found plenty of success under the late afternoon sun at Milan Puskar Stadium.

But while the second-year head coach continued to be pleased with his playmakers on that side of the ball, he didn't enjoy the fact that his team's defense looked downright silly at times on April Fool's Day.

"It seems like when 47 (linebacker Reed Williams) isn't out on the field, our defense falls apart," Stewart said.

Williams suited up for practice but saw no action as he continues to be hampered by an illness. Stewart said coordinator Jeff Casteel's unit desperately misses its senior leader when he is not on the field.

"What you saw today by our defense was another Greenville, N.C. (last year's 24-3 loss at East Carolina) That's what I saw today. I'm not real pleased with that."

Stewart was so displeased, in fact, that he barred any of the team's defensive players from being interviewed by the media after practice and made them stay on the field with assistants during his press briefing.

"Our defensive youngsters need to quit reading their press clippings and understand that every day on Mountaineer Field, every day when you wear the Old Gold and Blue, every time out, you must strain and play physical football," Stewart said.

If the head coach was upset with his defense, he was equally happy with the play of his offense.

Quarterback Jarrett Brown, running back Noel Devine and wide receiver Wes Lyons all had impressive performances Wednesday in a practice that was summarily dominated by the offense.

"There was some good intensity today by one side of the ball," Stewart said. "The offense came out to practice."

While generally pleased with that unit's progression under coordinator Jeff Mullen, Stewart still expressed reservation with the play of his offensive line.

"We had a couple busts down here today on the goal line thing," Stewart said of an earlier drill. "They're not savvy enough inside. I think our tackles are playing okay, but the inside guys are just too young.

"We're just not ready. Hopefully that's what spring is about and (fall) camp is about. We don't have to be ready until September. But they're just not gelling inside quick enough, but that will come, hopefully."

Rifle Reports:

  • Stewart briefly referred to Jock Sanders as another slot receiver that could work alongside Wes Lyons before recalling Sanders' indefinite suspension following his DUI charge.

    To hear the head coach tell it, Sanders may not be reinstated for quite some time.

    "He's still in the dog pound," Stewart said. "He'll be there for months. I haven't even started on his paperwork yet.

  • In the category of "those players who have left the doghouse behind," Stewart saw fit to single out defensive lineman Scooter Berry for his effort in practice Wednesday.

    "Scooter looked like he had a pretty good day," Stewart said. "He was pretty tough to block."

    Berry, a junior, was held out of the first few days of practice and forced to work solely on conditioning after the head coach said he was out of shape.

  • The role of the tight end has continued to increase as Stewart's staff begins its second year in Morgantown, and the head coach said Tyler Urban and Will Johnson have been impressive.

    "I think Tyler Urban has really given us some more opportunity to make the offensive scheme even a little bit better even than we first thought," Stewart said.

    "He's not a main cog, but we're working that way. He really brings a lot to this offense. It gives us such a dimension. We always have that tight end anchored running game we can go to. He and Will Johnson are both doing a good job."

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