Fall Practice Report: Day 8

If WVU's head coach truly wanted to see someone or something dominate play as he said after Friday's practice, he got what he wanted in the Mountaineers' first full-scale scrimmage of fall camp.

It was West Virginia's defense that ruled the day on a hot Saturday afternoon in Morgantown.

The blue-clad unit held its offensive teammates off the scoreboard entirely until late in the scrimmage, when transfer kicker Josh Lider hit a 22-yard field goal to end a drive that started at the second-team defense's 25-yard line.

Even that drive was aided by a penalty, as Eddie Davis was called for a phantom pass interference while covering freshman Logan Heastie.

Davis appeared to just be in good position, as the receiver tried to free himself in the corner of the end zone for a pass from Eugene Smith on a third down play, but the referees threw a flag that extended the drive.

The No. 1 offense got finally tallied points on the very next possession from the same spot on the field, but even that drive wasn't pretty.

Pat Lazear started out with a "sack" of quarterback Jarrett Brown (the play was blown dead when Lazear got close, due to the gold non-contact jersey worn by Brown and other quarterbacks) that went for a loss of four yards. A false start penalty along the offensive line backed up the white shirts another five yards.

On what appeared to be the only major lapse by the No. 1 defense all day, some confusion in coverage schemes left Reed Williams one-on-one with receiver Alric Arnett on the next play. Arnett used his speed to come open for a 34-yard touchdown pass from Brown.

The only other scores came on possessions that started in the "gold zone" -- the coaching staff's term for being inside the defense's 10-yard line. For the purposes of the scrimmage, those drives began at the blue shirts' 8-yard line.

Brown did well in that area, throwing for three more touchdowns. He hit receiver Wes Lyons for an 8-yard score. On the next possession, he tossed to Carmen Connelly for a 7-yard score on third-and-goal. Later, he hooked up with tight end Tyler Urban for an 8-yard touchdown.

The No. 2 offense also found success in deep, as freshmen Tavon Austin and Shawne Alston each had 8-yard touchdown runs on back-to-back plays. Coley White, who saw limited action with the second-team offense as Smith took the bulk of the snaps there, ran in from five yards away for another score.

Unfortunately for coordinator Jeff Mullen's charges, that was the only part of the field where the No. 1 offense found any real success.

The white shirts began their first drive of the day at their own 35-yard line and marched impressively at first, getting all the way to the defense's 28-yard line after a 1-yard carry by Noel Devine on third-and-two.

The coaching staff opted to give its short-yardage game a go once more and went for it on fourth-and-one, lining up in a new, big-bodied package known as "Bubba" that features Ricky Kovatch as a lead blocker for Ryan Clarke behind Jarrett Brown.

The new wrinkle didn't work, as Clarke lost one yard on the play for a turnover on downs.

Brown finished the day 9-of-16 passing for 102 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Three of those completions came in the "gold zone" work, and accounted for three of his touchdowns.

The interception came on a nice play by cornerback Kent Richardson, who just reached an overthrown ball that sailed past Bradley Starks in the end zone. The cornerback, who also had a pass break-up, got one hand on the ball and pulled it into his chest for the pick.

Lazear and Sidney Glover each had sacks against the No. 1 offense, and Zac Cooper earned one against Smith and the second-team offense.

NOTES:

  • Smith was out of the green jersey he has donned since the start of practice, instead throwing on a gold No. 12. Previously, the freshman had suited up in a green No. 9. He performed admirably with the No. 2 offense and made no significant mistakes, finishing 8-of-14 passing for 85 yards.

  • In "NASCAR" kicking (when the offense runs one play and then sprints off the field as if time were running out while the kicking unit comes onto the field), Tyler Bitancurt converted attempts of 46 and 41 yards.

    Lider, the senior transfer from Western Washington, pushed a 42-yarder wide to the left.

  • Before the scrimmage actually began, the Mountaineers once more did their "Victory" drill (see video of the drill in another story from today's practice) and worked on both point after and longer field goal kicking, as well as punting. In the punt work, Scott Kozlowski showed an impressive leg, booming several kicks that traveled more than 50 yards in the air.

  • In terms of other big plays not noted previously, Jordan Roberts ran for 30 yards on his first carry and ended up with five runs for 40 yards.

    Daquan Hargrett had a nifty 17-yard rush with the second-team offense, cutting back across the field and picking up a nice block from Austin en route.

    But the longest play of the day was a 41-yard hook-up between Smith and Will Johnson, who broke free about 25 yards from the line of scrimmage and received a nice ball thrown just over his shoulder by the freshman signal-caller.

  • Some notable statistical lines: Noel Devine had 31 yards on six carries, Austin had two carries for seven yards and two receptions for 15 more.

    Clarke had 16 yards rushing on his seven carries (of which 13 came on one play from the offense's own 2-yard line). Hargrett dded 23 yards on his six carries.


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