WHEELING, W.Va. – Assistant football coaches and players addressed members of the media Saturday following the Mountaineers open practice at Wheeling Island Stadium.
On having an open practice in front of fans
It’s fun. We haven’t had a live practice since I’ve been here so it’s really good to come out and play some football. It was a similar practice to what we do every day.
On the development of the offense
We are still doing our installation stuff each and every day. Right now we are just repeating those plays and perfecting them. We struggled a bit today but we are going to get better.
On if his grasp of the offense has changed this offseason
Last year I had a good grasp of things. You’re always changing things and mixing things up. I’m still learning but I have experience so when I get out there I need to get guys to rally behind me.
On the open practice
It feels good to be out there in front of the fans. I think the fans were excited and we put a good practice on for them. Practice was pretty much the same, we were just competing against one another and trying to get each other better.
On getting into padded practice
It’s always fun when you get to put the pads on. When you get to go live in team drills, that’s where I think we really help each other, get better, and push each other.
On the depth at safety
We have much better depth at safety than last year. Last year we just had myself, Darwin Cooke and KJ Dillion that were experienced. This year everybody has experience, we have multiple people in and they can be productive.
Assistant Coach (Offensive Coordinator) Shannon Dawson
With Skyler Howard
taking reps with the first team, it’s very similar to what we did when we brought Clint Trickett
in last fall. He was the furthest behind so he got 50 percent of the reps to speed him up. We have to get him to a level playing field mentally. Right now he isn’t because he is still processing things. You can’t play instinctively when you’re trying to figure out signals. We are trying to give him slightly more reps in order to curb that learning process. With Rushel it’s similar, he has good days and bad days. All in all he’s shown signs of being a really good player, he just needs to learn the system. He’s a little hesitant at times too because he’s not understanding everything. The communication is not there which is frustrating, but the only way to curb that is for them to grow and get those reps.
On his evaluation of practice
I don’t know if I’m really happy about it. You don’t really know until you watch the film to see how you did. Obviously we are far from where we need to be. I thought it was an average performance. We ran the ball well at times and put the ball in play a few times. But today was a red zone practice and you can’t have three turnovers in the red zone, we need to punch it in there.
On his progression through a year in the program
I read the coverage a lot better. I’m starting to yell out the coverage when I line up. I’m getting used to the routes and getting a lot more comfortable.
On his goals for the spring
I want to get better in all aspects of my game, being a better athlete, leader and a receiver. I focused this offseason on working on my breaks, coming out of my routes and having strong hands while using my body.
It’s great. He’s a hard worker, we are close on and off the field. It clicks when he throws the ball to me or Daikiel Shorts
, so it’s a good relationship.
On the depth at defensive line this spring
We have a bunch of guys who are going to be strong for us. Christian Brown
and Darrien Howard
at the nose, Eric Kinsey
, myself, Dontrill Hyman Jon Lewis
are all strong. Our first team and second team are interchangeable. With the defensive line you need a lot of depth. You can’t ask for too much, but right now we are pretty solid.
On the defensive line and his progression from last spring
I feel we could throw in anybody and not have a drop-off in performance. With me, I’m bigger, I feel stronger, I don’t know about faster but I feel quick off the ball.
On coach Tom Bradley joining the staff
Coach Bradley has coached a lot of good football players and a lot of good football. It’s a great opportunity for me and once in a lifetime chance. He doesn’t yell at people and is kind of docile, he knows what he’s doing because he’s coached so much. You don’t want to get on his bad side though.
Assistant Coach (Defensive Coordinator) Tony Gibson
On the environment of today’s practice
I thought the kids adjusted well. Every time you take them to a new scene they are a bit slower to adjust. Overall I thought the kids came out, executed and played hard. It was a great crowd and a great area with people who support our program. Any time we can do that for the fans is good. Any time you get to perform in front of people is good. They come to a great place and we get the opportunity to give back to the people of the state and play in a good atmosphere.
On having players specialize in one position and minimize position changes
I think our kids are really getting better every day. We are not close to where we need to get to, we make a lot of mistakes, but the effort that we play with is covering up those mistakes. That’s the one thing we are focused on, flying to the ball.
On the depth on defense
Any time you can work with a lot of players is great. It increases competition. At linebacker we have 14 guys out there right now without Jared Barber
and Wes Tonkery
, Shaq Petteway
is slowing working his way back to healthy. Guys are getting a lot of quality reps and stepping up.