Early Observations

A collection of items from West Virginia's first day of fall football camp.

  • Bradley Starks spent much of the individual portion of practice with the quarterbacks. There's no doubt that Starks will enter the season as WVU's backup – and could hold that spot for the entire season.

  • Of the freshmen offensive linemen, Nick Kindler seems to have reshaped himself the most over the summer. While he, like the rest of the freshmen, aren't close to ready yet, and still need to add size and strength, he seems to be ready to begin that process. There was a lot of teaching going on in the offensive line area, where five freshmen were going through their first practice on the floor of the stadium. That process, as well as the work done to mold the first team offensive front, will command a good bit of attention over the next few weeks.

    The good news is that both Don Barclay and Chad Snodgrass were in white jerseys and participated in every drill. Ryan Spiker was the only lineman in green with a reported foot issue.

  • The teaching began the moment the players hit the field. Defensive backs coach David Lockwood had his charges lined up and set against receivers while going thorough each possible coverage against different formations right from the start of practice. The same process was underway across the field where Steve Dunlap was in rapid fire mode teaching assignments to the spurs andbandits. There's clearly going to be a crash course for the freshmen, with those able to absorb the most information having a chance to play. Both Pat Miller and Broderick Jenkins have been named as early candidates to do so, and Jenkins looks very smooth during drills. Whether they are able to absorb everything mentally is the big question at this point.

  • Ball security and stripping were the twin themes of the day. Every position, including the offensive and defensive linemen, worked on either protecting the ball, stripping the ball or recovering loose balls. For the defense, emphasis was placed not only on going for a strip, but wrapping up the ballcarrier at the same time. That's key, as a missed strip can't also result in extra yardage gains for the opponent.

  • The punt team got in a number of reps, with Scott Kozlowski impressing. He consistently boomed his kicks with plenty of hang time. With no contact on Day One, attention was focused on correct alignment and assignments.

  • Receivers tend to get lumped together when discussing depth at the position, but there are really two separate groups of them in practice. One consists of outside receivers, coached by Lonnie Galloway, while the other group, comprised of slot receivers and running backs, are tutored by Chris Beatty. There can be some crossover between the groups, (such as Wes Lyons, who missed the day due to a death in the family), but you can get an idea of where a player is expected to fit by his position on the practice field grouping. Today, Galloway had Logan Heastie, Jerrard Hunter, Ryan Nehlen, J.D. Woods, Alric Arnett, Payton Brooks and Tyrell Rembert in his group.

  • If it were so inclined, West Virginia could put a defense on the field that might be as tall as its basketball squad. With Robert Sands and Jonathan Scott (both 6-5) at safety, and Will Clarke (6-6), Curtis Feigt (6-6) and Julian Miller (6-4) up front, the Mountaineer defrense of the next couple of years could be as rangy as any in recent memory.

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