Stew's Views: Fall Camp Day Ten

Another day of two-a-day practices came and went for the WVU football team Tuesday, as the process of re-teaching concepts began just days after the newest Mountaineers had the entire playbook thrown at them in a short span of time.

That method of teaching, which offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen has often termed the "whole-part-whole" process, is one in which coaches throw everything at players within the first few days of practice. They then go back and focus on smaller concepts to fine-tune.

The theory is that players learn more effectively and at a faster rate. Stewart said it is a widely-used philosophy in modern football.

"The old school [approach] is teach very small and build up," the third-year head coach said. "We throw it all at them.

"We have them studying. We're in camp. There's no school. We're just here in meetings and they're always talking football. We believe that's the right thing to do, and most coaches in America put the whole gamut in about the first five days. Then you go back and re-teach segments of what you're trying to get done."

Upperclassmen can play a big role in just how well freshman and other young players learn their craft early. They can serve as extra coaches on the field, of sorts -- and can be easier for players to talk to and ask questions to away from practice.

After struggling to find leadership this spring, Stewart has been pleased with just how many veterans have stepped up to mentor the newer West Virginia players.

He mentioned no less than 13 players as those that have led the way in terms of teaching others at their positions the finer points of the Mountaineer system -- and football in general.

"Hearing from the freshmen ... they've mentioned, ‘Man, coach. I never dreamed it would be like this,'" Stewart said. "And I simply say, ‘You need to do that when you're an upperclassman.' There's so many."

That process continued Tuesday, as WVU practiced in helmets and shorts in the morning session, took a break for lunch and media interviews and prepared for an afternoon practice in helmets and shoulder pads.

Stewart said the team focused on blitzing in the morning practice, allowing the defense to hone its aggressive packages and giving the offense some work on picking up those blitzes. A pass "skeleton" drill and two-minute drill work rounded out the bulk of the agenda for the morning.

"We got some things accomplished, as always, and it was good," Stewart said. "We had a very sharp practice."


  • There was no change in the status of freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson as of Tuesday, the second consecutive day in which the Texas native did not practice with the team.

    "He's fine," Stewart said. "He's talking with me and I'm talking with him, and that's between us. As I said last night, you'll know once we get this settled which way it's going to go."

    The head coach said Monday that Johnson is "homesick." That came hours after the highly-touted signal-caller wrote on Facebook that he was "officially" a Baylor Bear and expressed disappointment with how he was being used in the Mountaineer offense through the first week of practice.

  • That incident did not mean that Stewart was likely to go the way of other college coaches, like Boise State's Chris Petersen, and limit players' ability to use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

    "I've seen these coaches that have maybe excluded that," he said. "That's up to them. It's just like the NFL agents. I want our guys to hear about the NFL agents, so I brought the NFL Players Association in here to talk to us. How can we get educated if I don't educate them?

    "I told you all a long time ago -- if all I teach these guys is how to block and tackle, then to me, I've failed miserably as a football coach and I've failed as a man. So we try to teach them all those aspects. I don't know that it's my right or whatever -- I don't want to put my guys under such a harness that they're afraid to look left or look right. It's maturity."

  • It was another set of two-a-day practices for the West Virginia players, a taxing affair to be sure, even though the temperatures were "only" in the mid-80s during the afternoon.

    But Stewart had to laugh as he reminisced about "the old days" -- when there were two practices in every day of camp -- with veteran Mountaineer beat reporter Mickey Furfari.

    "There's only four [days of two-a-days], and these guys think it's terrible," he chuckled.

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