Spring Practice Notebook: Day 14

Ready or not, there is nothing more that stands between the Mountaineers and their final workout of the spring. Their final true practice was completed Wednesday evening at Milan Puskar Stadium, and only a live exhibition in front of fans -- Friday night's Gold-Blue Game -- stands between the team and the conclusion of spring practice.

The team's 14th workout in the last four weeks was much the same as the previous 13. It followed a very similar pattern, as players and coaches worked in separate stations for the early parts of practice, working on position-specific drills, before joining up in the latter stages for "live" work.

?As it has almost every day, those "live" periods began with a 7-on-7 pass "skeleton" drill. Quarterback Geno Smith took all of those reps on Wednesday, as he has all spring, and he looked relatively impressive in what were apparently the signal-caller's final practice tosses until fall camp.

The sophomore-to-be will not participate in Friday night's game, according to head coach Bill Stewart, to avoid the risk of having his broken foot further injured. Coley White will take all of the snaps for the offense as a result.

But Smith gave one last look at what he was capable of Wednesday, tossing three touchdown passes in the skeleton drill.

He hit Reggie Rembert for a 3-yard score early. A few series later, he lofted a near-perfect fade pass to the corner of the end zone which was hauled in by Stedman Bailey for a TD. And for his parting shot, he delivered a rocket down the middle of the field to an open Eddie Davis, who had worked his way open and ran in for a 51-yard touchdown.

In between, Smith continued to make his presence felt. He found Tavon Austin for 25 yards after the receiver had run a nice out route. Smith's delivery was just able to keep Austin in bounds for the reception.

Just a few plays later, he hit Brad Starks for 24 yards. On the next series, he went to Starks again for 36 more. He culminated that drive with the scoring pass to Bailey, a beautiful ball that didn't allow cornerback Keith Tandy to make a play on it.

White, however, didn't have his best day. He wasn't as erratic as he had been early in the spring, but he struggled to move the offense down the field in 11-on-11 drills to close practice.

He badly missed Daquan Hargrett on a simple screen pass early, but White was also victimized by a few drops throughout the drill.

The highlight of 11-on-11 drills came on the last snap of practice, when fullback Matt Lindamood took off down the sidelines for a gain of at least 35 yards.

Afterwards, players were forced to run several sprints from sideline to sideline.

Offensive lineman Joey Madsen said that was punishment for "little things" -- not keeping the locker room tidy and other such offenses.

But Stewart made sure his players got the message, going up and down the sidelines and barking out instructions before sending his charges on yet another run for the opposite side of the field.


  • The Mountaineers enter Friday night's Gold-Blue Game at perhaps the healthiest they have been in several weeks.

    Both kicker Tyler Bitancurt and linebacker Branko Busick were back in their normal jerseys (white and blue, respectively).

    Bitancurt did not attempt any kicks Wednesday, but the change of shirts is a sign that he is closing in on a full recovery from the injury that has nagged him all spring. Busick, a reserve, was back in action after being limited for several days.

    Offensive lineman Chad Snodgrass was the only new addition to the ranks of the walking wounded, taking on a red jersey. It was unclear what had befallen the oft-injured Kanawha Valley product.

    He joined defensive lineman Scooter Berry, reserve quarterback Josh DePasquale, receiver Andrew Goldbaugh and receiver Ryan Nehlen in red.

    In green were the quarterback Smith, Starks, linebacker J.T. Thomas and receiver J.D. Woods.

  • It wasn't the best day for the West Virginia specialists in live field goal drills.

    Three of Musselman High School product Corey Smith's first four attempts were blocked. He did, however, manage to boot a 47-yarder through the uprights.

    For the first time all spring, Smith and current first-teamer Greg Pugnetti got to work on "pooch" punts, trying to down the ball inside the 5-yard line. Both punters had success in that drill, as four consecutive kicks were downed inside the 3-yard line.

    Part of that was the result of good work from the coverage unit. Keith Tandy and Jeremy Kash both made athletic plays to jump before reaching the goal line and tap the ball back into the field of play to avoid touchbacks.

  • The only thing that now stands between WVU's players and coaches and the start of summer conditioning work is Friday night's Gold-Blue Game.

    Festivities are to begin at 7:00 p.m. and will include an "Old Timers' Game" beforehand, featuring a contest of two-hand touch football pitting several former Mountaineer players against each other.

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