WVU still indoors for spring workouts
MORGANTOWN – Day two of spring drills was exactly that – drills – as West Virginia looks to rebound from a disappointing 4-8 mark a year ago.
“I feel like we’re getting better,” offensive line coach and Parkersburg South graduate Ron Crook said following Tuesday’s workouts. “We’re working hard and we’re excited about being out there. We just have to keep focused on the little things, the details and I think we’re going the right way.”
As they did on day one, quarterbacks and both lines were the focus of the majority of the media’s attention.
“We’re still trying to figure it out,” continued Crook. “We have a lot of guys out there working for it and competing for it and they’re going hard. I like what I see out of all of them.”
Of primary importance this spring is finding replacements at both tackle positions. Redshirt sophomore Adam Pankey is starting out the spring at the top of the depth chart at left tackle while redshirt junior Marquis Lucas is at right with redshirt senior Michael Calicchio the primary backup to Pankey.
“These battles are still up in the air,” added the second year assistant. “Until we get everyone here, we won’t know what way we’re going.”
Words that could just as easily be used to sum up the situation on the defensive line.
“We need to see what’s going on everywhere,” first-year defensive coordinator Tony Gibson explained. “It’s going to help me get a good feel for what’s going on and how it’s all going.
“We have five good coaches on defense. We will break it down and see what we have to work with.”
Two of those coaches, however, are new to the program – former-Penn State defensive coordinator/interim head coach Tom Bradley and Miramar High School (Fla.) and former-Mountaineer linebacker Damon Cogdell.
“What we’re trying to do now is learn the scheme, after I learn the scheme; he (Gibson) is gone,” said Cogdell.
“He’s teaching me the schemes right now, what he needs me to know and he’s done a great job at doing that for me and eventually I’ll be by myself.”
That won’t be the case for offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson as the veteran assistant is working with a trip of signal callers and has veteran Clint Trickett waiting in the wings recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
“We started off running; it’s not baby steps,” said Dawson. “It isn’t just Clint (Trickett) and it isn’t just Skyler Howard.
“Paul Millard was the say way when he got here, I mean it’s everybody when you inject a new system so everybody’s a little different. Maybe sometimes its more similar to what they did in the past so they pick it up easier and sometimes it isn’t.
“Obviously, our communication right now is poor so you just need to keep plugging away and don’t’ get frustrated.”
Dawson isn’t the only one, however, looking at a lot of faces in his meeting room. Running backs coach JaJuan Seider is also dealing with a full house when he has his meetings.
One of those faces, however, is a familiar one – red shirt junior Andrew Buie.
“Right now, we want him to just compete,” said Seider. “Make every opportunity count and I can’t stress that enough. I told him everything you do, if it’s picking up a blitz, if it’s running a route, whatever it is make everything count. Everything right now is critical and it’s what separates people.”
Buie was the team’s leading rusher two years ago, finishing with 851 yards and seven touchdowns on 179 carries as WVU went 7-6 on the season. But, the arrival of University of Houston standout Charles Sims allowed the coaching staff to redshirt Buie last fall.
Sims, who rushed for nearly 1,100 yards, is off to the NFL so that opens the starting running back job to either Buie, junior college transfer Dreamius Smith, sophomore-to-be Wendell Smallwood or junior-to-be Dustin Garrison.
The Mountaineers will close out the first three days of drills today at 6:30 p.m. Players will be released for spring break following that practice and will return on Tuesday, March 18.