Tuesday afternoon several football coaches and players were available to address the media as the team’s spring practices continue to go on. The players and coaches alike continue to speak positively about the team’s advances and growth during practice, which one can hope would mean the team is getting an early start on a successful season for the fall.
Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson continues to work week in, week out with his “DAWGS” to bring yet another stout Mountaineer defense. Coach Gibson is currently making the most of his time in spring practice by running rep after rep and doing his best to figure out who is going to play. “Right now, we are going to stop installing at this point and go back and revisit some things, reinstall some things and just creep through the rest of the spring and try to get these guys dialed in to what we need them to do.” With this being literally the first few days of April, Coach Gibson is just now getting deep into spring practice and figuring out who performs best and at what position.
If there’s one thing we can count on from Coach Gibson, it’s that he will have his defense ready to line up come Labor Day weekend.
Coach Gibson was pleased with the work the team has put in this spring, remarking that the team “got after it a little bit” in Saturday’s practice, “I thought we finished the week really well on Saturday, we got after it a little bit in a scrimmage. It was good to see our guys make some plays. We felt really good after the scrimmage on Saturday with where we are. Now what we have to do is to continue to get better. We can’t stay the same, and obviously we can’t go backwards. Right now, I like where we are, and we have to get better”
Defensive line coach Bruce Tall feels that each practice brings about a new standout, remarking “It’s daily. It’s this guy, this day, and that guy, this day. (Junior defensive lineman) Ezekiel Rose is a real quick, real athletic young man, and he brings a different type of punch to things but it’s a different guy each day.”
Coach Tall also commented on the amount of consistency players are bringing this spring. “They really bought in to what we’re doing and they work with each other real well. They help each other, they coach each other, and they’re competitive obviously, but they work well together. It’s a great group working together.”
Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has had another good week of practice, as he has spent his time since last addressing the media continuing his work with the running backs and getting to know quarterback Will Grier. “A lot of it is me just trying to figure out (redshirt junior quarterback) Will (Grier). He’s pretty much as is; as what I thought he was going to be, but starting to just figure out what type of routes he likes to throw, what he’s capable of doing. The thing that I like to figure out, too, is how dynamic I can get with these running backs. I think they’re obviously proven in terms of the run game, but I like to put them in certain scenarios, certain positions to see if they can handle it out there on the perimeter. I’m playing around with a lot of things right now with these kids to see what they’re capable of doing, but again, I’ll probably have more answers for you after spring.”
Wide receivers coach Tyron Carrier spoke of Gary Jennings’s improvement since this past fall, “Well, he is a starter now . . . I told Gary last year, ‘you are going to be the guy who I can use everywhere.’ He was able to step in, and he has the main role now . . . He looks great, still practicing hard. He is probably my hardest worker out there, so I still love that guy.”
Redshirt senior offensive lineman Gary Lingafelter feels that spring practice is going as planned, with his fellow players getting lots of snaps and just working as much as possible. “Spring ball is all about development. You really start seeing people solidifying their positions in August camp, but spring ball, you can finally see people and how their offseason started to work out for them a little bit.”
Billy Kinney, redshirt junior punter, is also making the most of his spring practice. Kinney is doing his best to use this time to work on his consistency, remarking “I really wanted to be more consistent with everything. Like pooch punting, directional punting, getting balls turned over, just being more consistent.”
Finally, redshirt senior safety Marvin Gross, Jr. told the media he is using these spring practices to capitalize on his final year wearing the old gold and blue. “This is my last year, so I know I have to make a statement, and I plan to do that. I’m just going to go out there and play my game and let it happen how it happens.”
With ten practices in the books this spring, the Mountaineers are working toward the Gold-Blue Game on April 15 to highlight their progress made this spring.