Stew's Views: Day Nine

West Virginia head football coach Bill Stewart ended Monday morning's 6 a.m. practice pleased with two-thirds of the units on his team. He praised the defense and complimented the offense, which left the final squad, and particularly some of the players on it, in his line of fire.

"I threw (the kickers) out of the meeting yesterday," said Stewart. "I threw them out of the special teams meeting. Every one of them. Gone."

How much of that was for effect and how much is reality is unknown, but it certainly is a reflection of Stewart's displeasure with the kickers' performance and toughness recently. Problems raining from low trajectory placements to lack of height and distance on kickoffs have been nettlesome issues so far this spring.

However, that was one of the few down moments in the evaluation of Monday's work.

"We got a lot done today," Stewart said. "We worked on pass protection, and we had a nice red zone skelly. We had good situational play from both sides of the ball, and while that was going on, I kept seeing No. 82 (Alric Arnett), No. 4 (Wes Lyons) and No. 14 (Bradley Starks) make play after play."

On the other side of the receivers' drills, Stewart saw some good play by the defensive backs.

"Secondary did a good job," said Stewart. "Eddie Davis had a pick that looked like it could have went about 95 (yards.) I thought both sides were good. It was good for both. They're doing a good job. I'm really pleased with what is going on."

Even the offensive line, which took some lumps when confronted with new blitzes and the full fury of the defense on Saturday, bounced back effectively.

"Someone told me that they better grow up fast and whoever said that is absolutely right," said Stewart. "The (offensive) line is gelling. They're young. They are aggressive that's what I like. They don't get down on themselves. I had a talk with Selvish Capers after workouts yesterday. We just sat down on the couch and I told him how proud I was of him and how I liked and admired his leadership. (I told him) how he had to kind of step up and be the mother hen of that flock. He needs to take the young guys under his wing, like Josh Jenkins and Jeff Braun. He's earned that right. I was really pleased with how mentally tough they were Saturday."


Sophomore tight end Tyler Rader suffered a knee injury during Saturday's scrimmage. He was injured on the eighth play of the session and was absent from Monday's practice.

"Tyler Rader right now is being evaluated very closely for swelling," said Stewart. "He has a knee hypertension. I watched it on film and he was doing a heck of a job. That's going to be a big loss for us. I'm hoping that it won't be as serious as we think. It was a tough loss for a nice young man who deserved a chance to play this upcoming year. He was in the equation."

Sophomore linebacker Najae Goode was also dinged up on Saturday. After injuring his ankle, Goode finished Saturday's scrimmage, however he was not participating in Monday's practice. Defensive lineman Chris Palmer remains sidelined as he recovers from gall bladder surgery. He is holding out hope that he might be able to return for some limited action in the final week of the spring.

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The Mountaineers will practice again at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, and then wind up the week's work with another scrimmage on Wednesday afternoon. The team will then break for Easter before reconvening next Tuesday for three straight days of practice. The spring will wind up with the Gold-Blue Game on Sat. Apr. 18.

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