Spring Practice Notebook: Day 3

The third practice of the West Virginia football team's spring drills couldn't have been much more different than the first two. Sure, the weather in Morgantown had changed considerably, but the real variation was in the intensity of the two-hour session at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Indeed, it was a blustery and cold day on Mountaineer Field -- especially in comparison to the almost balmy temperatures that characterized the team's last practice on Wednesday.

But, more importantly, as players went into "shells" for the first time, the physicality of practice (and the intensity of the coaches and players) skyrocketed.

Even without full pads or the use of the famously physical "V" drill, there was plenty of hitting on display Friday evening.

The greatest reaction came when Eddie Davis showed that while he had been moved from defensive back to wide receiver for the spring, he hadn't forgotten the lessons he learned on the other side of the ball.

Davis took an end-around handoff from quarterback Coley White in 11-on-11 drills towards the end of practice. He was quickly cornered by the blue-clad defense, which had once again dominated the day.

But rather than retreating, Davis made his tackler pay. Brantwon Bowser had come up to make the play, and Davis lowered his shoulder and delivered a powerful shot into Bowser's midsection.

The impact sent Bowser flying backwards and sent Davis to the ground. The play went for a mere 3-yard gain, but it had players on the offense's sideline yelling out in excitement, taunting Bowser for taking the shot.

But that was one of very few highlights for coordinator Jeff Mullen's offense on Friday, as the white shirts once again struggled to generate much headway in "team" drills at the end of practice.

Not once in a span of around 15 minutes of work from the defense's 12-yard line could the offense score a touchdown. In fact, the longest play of that series covered about eight yards on a simple handoff up the middle to running back Shawne Alston.

The offense fumbled twice during work from that field position. Noel Devine coughed up the ball on the first play of work from there and defenders came up with it after a large scrum. A few plays later, White had his own fumble, simply losing control of the ball in the middle of one play.

Things didn't get much better in 7-on-7 "skeleton" passing drills.

Quarterback Geno Smith, held out of the 11-on-11 work as he continues to nurse his broken foot back to health, badly underthrew Stedman Bailey on a deep route. That allowed the ball to easily be picked off by Sidney Glover, who was participating for the first time this spring after missing the first two practices due to class conflicts.

Another fumble, this time on a bad center-quarterback exchange, summed up the day for the offense.

But Mullen and company did manage a couple of highlights in the 11-on-11 work before Davis delivered his big hit.

White hit Jock Sanders on a simple screen pass, but a lane opened in front of the rising senior slot receiver and he scooted around 35 yards before being forced out of bounds.

Just a couple plays later, Devine atoned for his fumble by taking a simple handoff on a belly option run and going for what would have been at least a 40 yard gain before the whistles blew to stop play.

From there, Davis made his impact felt, and the West Virginia offense had at least some reason to hang its head high walking off a stunningly could Mountaineer Field.

RIFLE REPORTS:

  • There were no changes in the statuses of those players who had either been held out of practice or limited due to injuries.

    Smith and wide receiver Bradley Starks continue to don green jerseys signaling limited participation, while defensive lineman Scooter Berry, wide receiver Ryan Nehlen and kicker Tyler Bitancurt were in red and did not practice.

  • Around 250 coaches were in attendance at Friday's practice, in town for the team's annual coaching clinic. Seemingly every high school in the state of West Virginia was represented, and coaches from several other schools from nearby Pennsylvania and Ohio were watching as well.

    Many took notes on the day's proceedings, walking around to almost every position's station during early drills to see what the Mountaineer coaching staff was emphasizing to its players.

  • Field goal kicking continued to be an adventure with Bitancurt sidelined. Transfer Corey Smith again struggled, converting only three of his six kicks during an early practice period devoted to the special teams.

    Setting the tone for what was a highly competitive day of practice, players on the defensive special teams mocked Smith after each of his misses.


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