WVU Spring Practice Report: Day Nine

The Mountaineer football team kicked off the third week of spring practice with another early session on Monday. The 6:00 a.m. start time wasn't too early for the wide receivers to rise and shine, as the group made several impressive catches during the early morning hours.

The morning began with stretches and individual drills, as usual, before plays and pass pattern were run. One point of emphasis for that part of practice was follow-through, as offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen emphasized mechanics. He also has been pushing his quarterbacks to concentrate on driving the back hip through the throw in order to put more velocity on the ball, rather than relying just on arm strength.

The quarterbacks were joined by the wide receivers and defensive backs for one-on-ones and skeleton drills, and on this day the offense fought back from Saturday's tough going. Wes Lyons, Bradley Starks, and Alric Arnett seemed to catch everything thrown their way during the session, as quarterback Jarrett Brown was right on target with many of his throws.

Starks' first catch came on the five-yard line when he was able to retrieve the ball despite having three defenders on him. On the next play, Starks drove to catch a ball on the two. Arnett caught a 30-yard pass for a touchdown, hauling it in one-handed and reminding everyone of his scoring catch in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

The competition had consequences, too, as defensive backs were forced to do pushups if they were outrun by the receivers, which happened more than once. Receivers Coach Lonnie Galloway was pleased by a nice ball caught by freshman Logan Heastie, who was able to fight off heavy defense from senior defensive back Guesly Dervil to snare one tough pass. However, Galloway continued to push his charges, telling them not to be happy with just beating a defender by one step, but to "Just go!" when they gained an edge.

On the defensive side, footwork was a focus of the linebackers. In executing blitz schemes, as well as in getting to assigned holes, correct foot placement is key, as just one misstep can leave a defender short of making the play. Reed Williams, again, was right in the middle of such teaching, helping youngsters understand the techniques while also polishing execution with the starters.

The secondary's highlight of the morning was a Kent Richardson interception in the late going.

"Our defense is really good right now," said junior defensive back Eddie Davis. "We have all of our players coming back except for a few key players. Everything is good right now. I'm happy with where (the defensive backs) are." Davis has made good progress this spring and has established himself as a contender for playing time this fall.

Nets were dropped for the last 15 minutes of practice in the indoor facility for work on field goal placements. West Virginia worked on its NASCAR package, in which the field goal team must race onto the field and get a kick away with the clock winding down and no timeouts left. Stewart, who has been critical of special teams play recently, seemed to be a bit more satisfied with the performance today.

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