Stew's Views: Fall Camp Day Four

Head coach Bill Stewart seemed to be pleased with his team's efforts following the fourth day of fall football camp. Despite the heat, Stewart saw a lot of positives in Tuesday's practice and had a lot of bright spots to point out. Stewart took time to break down his thoughts on the Mountaineer offense, defense, and special teams.

"It was a very hot practice today," said Stewart. "It was a very enthusiastic practice today. As coaches, you anticipate that they may be a little sluggish when you start and the sun is out but day four went well. It was very spirited. I liked the competition. Good job on the inside drill, one on one looked okay. I really enjoyed and thought the pass skeleton was good on both sides."

For the second day in a row, Stewart opted to have his team practice on the grass practice field up the hill from Milan Puskar Stadium. Not only did the grass field allow cooler temperatures but it also takes the players out of a familiar atmosphere which is something they will face throughout the season.

"We went up there to simply get away from the stadium," said Stewart. "If we stay in that stadium, the first time we play or practice away from the stadium would be an away game. I don't want to do that. I want to get up there on that grass. It's a little bit cooler. We don't have all the reflection and heat off of the turf. Plus, we play grass games as well so we want to do that. It's worked out very well."

While the competition for starting positions continues, Stewart commented on some of the current "ones" on the depth chart and their efforts thus far in camp. >{? "Geno Smith played pretty well," said Stewart. "He's got a long way to go as a lot of people do on the fourth day but he looked pretty sharp out there at times. I was really pleased at how Will Johnson caught the ball. He had a banner day and certainly, Bradley Starks. [He had] a couple big home run balls again. He just keeps showing up and it's neat to see that."

Despite the depth at receiver, Stewart says to expect to see tight end Will Johnson moved to a wing position that combines elements of the tight end and a slot receiver. This, after impressing with his catches in the spring and fall camp.

"He will be in like a slot wing," Stewart said of the tight end. "We call it more of a tight slot or a wing at the nub side of the tackle. He will also be a tight end if we use our big jumbo set." On the other side of the ball, the defense continues to impress and seems to be steps ahead of where it would normally be four days into camp. The group is already introducing new sets and coverages.

"Our defense is disguising," said Stewart. "I put in a couple new coverages and that's always a twist. We had three nice picks. One was Patrick Miller, the second was Casey Vance, and then one of the rookies, Ishamel Banks , went up and fought another rookie, Ivan McCartney, for the ball. I thought the pass rushing was just tenacious."

Battles are continuing on special teams while the group is still looking for a starting kickoff specialist. Punter Corey Smith seems to be just ahead of redshirt freshman kicker John Howard due to his experience, but the starting position is still up in the air according to Stewart.

"I would give the edge to Corey Smith," said Stewart of the kickoff battle. "He's been in the arena before. He's done it before. He hits it very well. He's just not consistent enough. John Howard hits the high ball. We're still working on the kicking part."

Unlike last year, Stewart will not call upon redshirt sophomore Tyler Bitancurt for kickoffs.

"I will not let Tyler Bitancurt kick off unless it's an emergency situation," said Stewart. "We have a fine field goal kicker in him, a fine placement kicker as well. I think he missed two [field goals] last year and I don't want to disrupt him at this time."

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