Report By: WVU Sports
Photo Credit: Caleb Saunders- WVU Football
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 24, 2020) – West Virginia began its third week of preseason practice this morning with a full-squad workout at the Steve Antoline Family Football Practice Field.
The Mountaineers were coming off an 88-play, two-hour scrimmage inside Milan Puskar Stadium last Saturday.
It was just the second time since March 12 coach Neal Brown had his entire squad together, and it was the first live tackling for the Mountaineers since the TCU game to conclude the 2019 season.
“I wasn’t excited about how our defense finished the scrimmage on Saturday,” Brown said Monday morning. “They got off to a good start but didn’t finish at all and then offensively, we did some good things in the second half after watching it a couple of times on tape.”
This morning, Brown said the focus was on situational work. They did some two-minute, end-of-the-half scenarios, red zone and fundamental stuff. He said they also concentrated on tempo – getting the units on and off the field quickly.
“Defensively, we didn’t get lined up well on Saturday so we worked a lot on that. That was much improved,” he said. “Today, really the defense dominated. It was as much of a dominant practice as I’ve been a part of in a long, long time. I don’t know if the offense won a single period. There were periods of practice when the offense didn’t win a single play.”
Brown said he will have to watch the tape to determine if it was great defense or poor offense.
“I’m not sure we blocked Darius Stills all day,” he said. “I thought he was extremely active. I thought we ran to the football better on defense.
“Offensively, it was very disappointing,” he added. “I didn’t think there was a whole lot of competing going on. The passing game with the receivers and quarterbacks was really non-existent all day.”
Brown also liked the way the secondary competed during team situations.
“I thought our defensive guys really bounced back and competed today. They owned their mistakes and came out and made corrections, and our guys on the backend really competed,” he said. “I think they had multiple interceptions. A couple of them they just took away from the wide receivers. Our defensive backs had more fire than our receivers did.”
Consequently, today’s practice standouts were all on the defensive side of the ball, according to Brown.
The coach mentioned the play of Stills and Jeffery Pooler Jr. on the defensive line, linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo and defensive backs Dreshun Miller, Tae Mayo, Tykee Smith and Sean Mahone during this morning’s practice.
West Virginia is scheduled to have another morning workout on Tuesday and then will hit the pause button for on-field activities on Wednesday as WVU begins the fall semester of classes.
“It’s going to be more of a physical type of practice (on Tuesday),” Brown noted. “We are going to do some situations involving running the football. From today until next Tuesday is critical to our development.”
The rest of the week includes another practice on Thursday, a scrimmage Friday night inside the stadium and a light practice on Saturday before taking Sunday off.
Brown had indicated that this will be an important week of improvement for his team before it begins preparing for its season opener against Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, Sept. 12.
“Even though classes start on Wednesday, we are going to stay in camp mode until next Tuesday,” he concluded.