Stew's Views: Day 13

Despite having to make another hasty exit from practice, West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart took the time to briefly meet with the media and express his satisfaction with the work done by his charges Wednesday.

Stewart had to leave quickly to join some of his players at a banquet honoring student-athletes with a 3.0 or better grade point average.

Whether or not West Virginia can put those smarts to use this fall remains to be seen, but the coaching staff chose to allow players to display both their brawn and their brains Wednesday.

The Mountaineers' afternoon practice inside the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility was yet another of the "situational" scrimmages Stewart and his staff have used multiple times through the spring.

Wearing full pads, WVU players took on one another at various positions on the field, including the offense's own 2-yard line, its 35-yard line, the defense's 35-yard line and the defense's 9-yard line.

While the various field positions alter the play calls from both sides, Stewart saw one common thread throughout the practice that pleased him -- physical play.

"I was very proud to be out there on the field with them," said the second-year head man. "They fought each other tough, they fought each other hard, and they fought each other clean."

There were a few big hits during the scrimmage, including a well-timed blow delivered by Nate Sowers to break up a pass from Jarrett Brown to wide receiver Alric Arnett.

The defense later managed to push back big-bodied fullback Ryan Clarke, keeping him from getting out of the end zone for a safety.

"There were some pads popping out there," Stewart said. "That was a great, great, great practice and I'm very proud."

With only one more regular practice remaining before Saturday's annual Gold-Blue spring game, Stewart said he still is not ready to evaluate the progress his team has made during the four-week practice period.

"I'll wait until after the spring game (to think about that)," Stewart said. "I've seen some improvement by some guys, and I wish some guys would hurry along, to be honest with you."

Among those that might need to "hurry along" could be the place-kickers currently on the Mountaineer roster.

West Virginia announced the addition of Josh Lider today. Lider is a transfer from Western Washington, which lost its football program this offseason due to financial concerns.

"It means they had better compete," the special teams coordinator said of his kickers. "There's not a job secure in this program. Not one."

Players could go a long way towards securing those jobs with more practices like Wednesday's, which had the head coach pleased heading into the final sessions of the spring.

"We had some great plays by some guys and saw some that are starting to mature a little bit," Stewart said. "It was a real slugfest. Both sides did well and both sides didn't do well. If we practice like that and have a nice spring game, have a nice camp, we might have a chance.

"That practice today was a practice with which you win bowl games, right there."


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