WVU Spring Practice Report: Day 11

There was ample reason for players on both sides of the football to be both pleased and angered with their play in West Virginia's second officiated scrimmage of the spring.

The scrimmage served as the Mountaineers' final get-together before a six-day break spanning the Easter holiday weekend.

Much like the traditional basket of candy kids will receive Sunday, there was an abundance of sweet plays Wednesday for players to savor.

Quarterback Jarrett Brown completed nine straight passes late in the scrimmage and finished the day 15-of-23 passing for 166 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Three of those touchdown tosses went to Wes Lyons, who continued to impress with his play since being moved into the slot this spring. The senior had five catches for 51 yards.

Each of Lyons' scoring grabs were impressive.

The first came on a well-executed play action fake by Brown. Lyons gained a step on defensive back Keith Tandy and grabbed the ball in the back of the end zone for a 22-yard score.

The catch came in spite of a pass interference flag thrown on Tandy, who recovered just in time to shove Lyons before the pass arrived.

Lyons' two other touchdown grabs came as West Virginia worked on its red zone offense late in the scrimmage.

The pair of catches were mirror images of each other, as the North Braddock, Pa., native found himself open crossing the middle of the field in the back of the end zone on each.

On both throws, Brown had play-faked to fullback Ryan Clarke, forcing the defense to bite and leave Lyons free. Low throws on each forced Lyons to dive for the ball, but the receiver grabbed both for a pair of nine-yard touchdowns.

"Jarrett had two great fakes in the short-yardage sets," said WVU head coach Bill Stewart. "I thought those (catches) were big plays, and we've been looking for big plays from our wide guys."

Brown also impressed at the end of practice in the two-minute drill, hitting 5-of-6 passes, including a 28-yard scoring strike to Bradley Starks.

"We put the clock on and Jarrett Brown came out absolutely on fire," Stewart said. "That was some really good football. I was proud with the way the offense fought back. What they did in the two-minute drill with live officiating was very nice to see."

While Brown had his share of highlights, the senior also had two key turnovers.

The first came as the signal-caller rolled right to create more time to throw. He spotted a then-open Alric Arnett down the near sideline, but delivered the ball late enough to allow Brandon Hogan to recover and intercept it.

On the final play of the day, Brown was picked off once more.

A throw towards Starks ricocheted hard off the face mask of safety Robert Sands, popping the ball high in the air. Linebacker Reed Williams made an impressive play, boxing out several players and out-jumping them to grab the ball.

The Mountaineer defense also collected a safety as Sands sacked Brown in the end zone as the offense worked from its own two-yard line.

"(Sands) could have absolutely engulfed the quarterback," Stewart said. "He blitzed and timed it perfectly."


  • After an impressive showing in Saturday's scrimmage, Clarke has become a favored weapon of the Mountaineer offense in short-yardage situations.

    However, the WVU defense knew that as well and keyed on the fullback in the team's red zone drills.

    As a result, Clarke had a rough day, carrying 11 times for only four net yards and losing a fumble on a bad exchange with Brown.

    "The defense got a little bit better this week in the goal line sets," Stewart said. "Last week, the offense ran right through them when Ryan Clarke scored all of those touchdowns. We got that corrected on defense today."

  • Field goal kicking continues to be a concern for Stewart and the Mountaineers, as presumptive starter Tyler Bitancurt was only 1-of-3 on field goal attempts during the scrimmage.

    Bitancurt hit his first kick, a 22-yarder, at the end of a 34-yard drive early in the scrimmage.

    Despite concerns about his leg strength, the redshirt freshman had plenty of leg on a 46-yard attempt that sailed wide left. He also pushed a 20-yard kick from the left hash wide right late in the scrimmage.

    "Kicking was 50-50 today, and we have a long way to go there," Stewart said.

  • While there was nothing new to report concerning the status of injured tight end Tyler Rader, Stewart expressed little hope for good news in the near future.

    "They are still waiting for the swelling to subside (before further evaluating his status)," Stewart said. "It doesn't sound good. I hope the young man isn't hurt as bad as what he may be."

    Rader sustained a knee injury in this past Saturday's scrimmage.

  • West Virginia will next hold practice on Tuesday, April 14.

    The session will be one of only three that remain before the team's annual Gold-Blue game the following Saturday.

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