Spring Practice Notebook: Day 5

For the first time this spring, the Mountaineers headed indoors Tuesday evening for their fifth practice session of the young season. But the lights inside the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility shined upon plenty of green and red mixed in among the blue and white jerseys after last Saturday's physical, full-padded session.

WVU running back Noel Devine was among those sporting Christmas colors for the team's practice. After sustained a bruised left quadricep Saturday, Devine was in a green No. 10 jersey to signal that his participation would be limited.

Indeed, Jock Sanders and Shawne Alston split carries when the Mountaineers did a rushing drill with plays starting at the defense's 9-yard line, also known as the "gold zone". But otherwise, Devine was on the field for much of the action Tuesday and appeared to be fine.

The coaching staff apparently had less reason to be optimistic about the statuses of wide receiver J.D. Woods and running back Daquan Hargrett, who were in red jerseys and did not participate in practice.

Meanwhile, those who had previously been limited or held out by injury continued to be in roughly the same circumstances.

Defensive lineman Scooter Berry, who wore a red jersey throughout the first week of drills, was seen briefly at practice in a sweatsuit, but left early -- presumably for academic obligations. Wide receiver Ryan Nehlen and placekicker Tyler Bitancurt were also still in their red jerseys.

Quarterback Geno Smith and wide receiver Brad Starks continued to don green jerseys, but both participated in the vast majority of work Tuesday.

Smith was once again held out of 11-on-11 drills, and offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen said that even if the rising sophomore is cleared to ultimately participate in them, the coaching staff will be very cautious in determining whether or not to allow him to.

RIFLE REPORTS:

  • Corey Smith had perhaps his best day of the spring kicking field goals, making four of his six kicks in an early practice period. The Alabama transfer and Musselman High School product was successful on an extra point attempt and field goals of 25, 30 and 39 yards.

    He was just wide right on a kick from 36 yards out, and missed a 47-yarder -- but would have gotten another chance in an actual game, as defensive lineman Larry Ford jumped offsides just before the ball was snapped.

  • Former West Virginia players Reed Williams and Scott Kozlowski were both in attendance Tuesday, encouraging their replacements at the linebacker and punter spots, respectively.

  • After struggling to find success against the defense the first week, Mullen's offense seemed to have the upper hand in the aforementioned "gold zone" drill. Time and time again, Alston and Sanders made plays to slip outside the defense's containment and run in for scores.

    Alston made an impressive play, taking a carry around left end and shaking off a diving tackle attempt from linebacker J.T. Thomas before running into the end zone.

    That caused head coach Bill Stewart to yell at the defensive players to, "Get off a block and hit somebody!" Linebacker Anthony Leonard did so, registering the biggest hit of the day with a pad-popper on an Alston carry between the tackles.

  • Converted cornerback Eddie Davis robbed Coley White of what would have been his biggest highlight of the spring.

    The third-year sophomore quarterback delivered a beautiful deep ball to Davis, who had worked himself into great position behind the second-team defense in the 7-on-7 "skelly compete" drill.

    But Davis dropped what seemed to be a sure completion. It took away what would have been at least a 25-yard gain for White.

  • White's fellow signal-caller, Smith, didn't have that problem.

    In the same drill, he delivered a nice pass down the middle of the field to tight end Tyler Urban. The ball was delivered just a bit high, but Urban timed his jump perfectly and gained control with one hand before coming down with about a 35-yard gain.

    Starks also helped out Smith, hauling in a reception about 10 yards from the line of scrimmage while running across the field before he turned upfield and outran multiple defenders to gain an extra 15 yards.

    Eain Smith did make a nice play to break up a pass from the sophomore QB to Stedman Bailey, stepping just in front of the receiver and timing his leap perfectly to get an outstretched paw on what was otherwise a well-thrown ball.

  • With Smith sidelined for 11-on-11 drills, Tavon Austin once again made some magic happen. The rising sophomore essentially duplicated what had been an electrifying play Saturday, when the receiver crossed almost the entire field while juking away from multiple defenders and getting to the opposite sideline for a big gain.

    Austin didn't need as many juke moves Tuesday, but he still managed to get across the field before cutting into another opening. The play was whistled dead early by coaches who wanted to get another snap in, but it almost certainly would have went for a touchdown in live action.


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