WVU Spring Practice Report: Day 14

Perhaps concerned with the possibility of fatigue after scrimmaging for the vast majority of their team's Wednesday practice, the members of the West Virginia coaching staff opted to make the final spring session before Saturday's Gold-Blue game a light affair.

Thursday's drills, the 14th spring practice for the Mountaineers, looked at times like more of a pre-game walkthrough than an actual workout.

"We had a teaching practice today," said head coach Bill Stewart. "Everything was done with a purpose in mind today, and it was a good day. I was pleased with what we got done."

With players wearing "shells" (helmets, light shoulder pads and shorts), assistant coaches spent the beginning of practice working with their respective players in light positional drills.

After a brief stretching period, the team then worked on "skeleton" passing drills, which pit the skill position players on offense against the linebackers and defensive backs.

The defense presented a rarely-seen even front to change up the look of what the offense was facing, as opposed to West Virginia's typical odd-stack defensive scheme.

"We always see the odd-stack, so we spent 15 quality minutes working on that just to show the guys that comparison," Stewart said. "So many times we don't get to take that slow down, teaching time, so that was good."

The first play of the skeleton drill, a short pass from Jarrett Brown to receiver Bradley Starks, was bobbled by Starks and intercepted by linebacker Reed Williams.

Brown would quickly atone for the pick.

Only two plays later, the senior fired a bullet between four defenders, finding Starks for a 20-yard gain. Brown then found Wes Lyons streaking down the far sideline and launched a 35-yard touchdown pass to the receiver.

Lyons needed nearly all of his 6-foot-8 frame to haul the pass in, but in this case he used it for extra length, diving to get his hands on a ball that otherwise would have been just a bit too long to grab.

Lyons also had another pair of catches in the skeleton drill, each in the middle of the field for around 15-20 yards.

After the completion of the skeleton drill team then went to a full-scale 11-on-11 "live" drill in what Stewart calls the "free-wheeling zone" at the offense's 35-yard line.

The first-team offense drove methodically downfield against the top-tier WVU defensive unit, picking up a key first down on a 15-yard run by Brown.

Apparently satisfied with what they had seen, the coaches sent on the field goal unit. Kicker Tyler Bitancurt bounced his 30-yard attempt off the left upright but it went just through.

Players then once again broke into positional drills, which seemed to serve largely to help the players relax at the end of a long spring practice period.

In one drill pitting defensive backs and wide receivers against each other, Starks played defense against safety Sidney Glover, who took the opportunity to run a few routes.

While a bit of tomfoolery prevailed on the perimeter of Mountaineer Field, Stewart and his punt unit worked on "pooch" punts, attempting to pin the opposition inside its own 10-yard line.

"We did a pretty darned good job of that last year, and our guys did a pretty good job of it again today," Stewart said. "I was pleased to see that."

After another session giving players the chance to work on timing punt blocks, the team wound down its final few minutes of the last true practice of the spring.


  • Stewart expressed his pleasure with the team's Wednesday scrimmage again after having the chance to review the workout.

    "We watched the film today," Stewart said. "The pads were popping like we thought. It was intense."

  • Williams, one of the team's leaders, may have helped build the nerves of Bitancurt on his field goal attempt. As the kicker trotted onto the field, Williams came off the sideline to participate in a little gamesmanship.

    The senior began yelling in Stewart's direction loudly enough for anyone on the field to hear, asking, "Do you really want to kick here? Maybe you should send out JB (Brown and the offense). You think he can win the game for you?"

    Bitancurt responded by just making the field goal off the upright, prompting a bit of laughter from Williams and other players.

    Beyond the trash talk, Stewart singled out Williams for another good day in practice, saying the linebacker was "flying around out there."

  • The Gold-Blue game will kick off Saturday afternoon at 12:30 at Milan Puskar Stadium.

    Unlike recent years, which have seen the No. 1 offense go against the No. 1 defense with a unique scoring system, this year's edition will be a true game, with the No. 1s and key backups against the remainder of the squad.

    "The gold team (the top team) will be coached by the older grey beards, and the blue guys will be coached by the pups," Stewart said.

    As per usual, the proceeds from the game will be donated to the WVU Children's Hospital.

  • BlueGoldNews Top Stories