Fall Practice Report: Day 4

The early part of WVU's fourth day of fall football practice was largely focused on the special teams units, which worked on both place-kicking and punting (and defending both) with mixed results.

The specialists essentially took over the main playing field for the first hour of Tuesday afternoon's session, while other positions went to work in drills around the sidelines.

In punt work, both Scott Kozlowski and Greg Pugnetti continued to impress. Both boomed consistent kicks that travelled 40-45 yards in the air with plenty of hang-time.

Kozlowski seems to have a handle on angling his kicks, as the senior once again perfectly placed a punt of around 50 yards that carried the man fielding the ball just out of bounds.

Pugnetti, on the other hand, may be a bit better in terms of pure distance on occasion. One of his kicks against a rush forced the player fielding the ball to run back around 10 yards from where he had set up expecting to make the catch.

Place-kicking work may be a bit more of a concern, as each of the three kickers working on field goals had moments worth forgetting against a rush today.

Transfer Josh Lider hit his first two attempts from 30 and 35 yards away, respectively, despite having to make the ball rise quickly to avoid two of the tallest members of the West Virginia team, Wes Lyons and Robert Sands, who were defending by jumping as high as possible in an attempt to block the kicks.

Lider then proceeded to hook another 30-yard kick wide to the left.

Tyler Bitancurt made a point-after kick (from 20 yards and in between the hashes) and then made a 24-yarder from the left hash.

He then had his next point-after attempt blocked by a hard-charging Najae Goode.

Cameron Starke converted field goals from 40 and 35 yards away, respectively. However, in between those two makes, the high-rising Sands blocked a 47-yard attempt from Starke.

Beyond the special teams work, most of what the Mountaineers did before practice was closed to the media at 3:30 p.m. was similar to what has been seen in previous days. Fundamental positional drills were the name of the game for each player that was not part of the special teams work.

Fullbacks and tight ends worked on an interesting drill that involved them standing behind the upright of the goal posts and extending their arms to the other side of the post to catch passes.

The theory here is that the drill is largely designed to keep the players from allowing the ball to come in to their chest, forcing them to catch it with their hands.

The offense once again worked on its speed in the no-huddle, which has been something coordinator Jeff Mullen's charges have done every day thus far in the first hour of practice.

The drill involves a quick snap, after which the entire offense falls to the ground, jumps up and looks for a new formation from the sidelines before advancing five yards and lining up in it as quickly as possible.

NOTES:

  • For the second straight day, the Mountaineers suited up in "shells" (helmets and shoulder pads with shorts) for practice.

    Head coach Bill Stewart has previously said that Wednesday will be the first day the team goes into full pads (and, presumably, full-contact drills).

  • Linebacker J.T. Thomas was hobbled briefly after being knocked down while blocking against a rush as a punt protector.

    Thomas stayed down on the ground for around 20 seconds before rising to his feet on his own and walking gingerly to the sidelines.

    After a bit of attention from the team's trainers, Thomas put his helmet back on and headed over to work with the linebackers on one of the sidelines and appeared to be okay.

  • West Virginia's injury situation remained unchanged for the fourth straight day, as Eugene Smith and Ryan Spiker continued to be the only players to be unable to participate fully.

    Smith, once again, did take part in every period of practice during the first hour (which is the only hour that has been open to media).

  • Once more, Stewart will meet with the media after practice ends at around 5:45 p.m. Check back with BlueGoldNews.com later tonight for the head coach's perspective on the day's events.


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