Wanted: Team Leaders
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
April 10, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the second time this spring, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart spent time after practice talking about the need for leaders to step up. He discussed leadership on Tuesday and he talked about it again in greater detail after Saturday’s early afternoon workout at Milan Puskar Stadium.
“Leadership is a funny thing,” said Stewart. “We’re not looking for rah-rah guys, we’re not looking for guys to tell their buddies how well they’re doing; we are looking for leaders. It’s tough to be a leader. You have to stay the course, remember the plan and go in the direction you know you’re supposed to go.”
Senior linebacker J.T. Thomas appeared to get the message. He could be seen after practice huddling up the defensive players and getting on his teammates for their performance at the end of today’s practice.
“You don’t script that and I really don’t promote that,” said Stewart. “What I told them today is it takes guts to be a leader.”
Stewart thought both sides of the ball flew around during today’s scrimmage, which featured some inside running and situational work. No officials were used for today’s practice.
“I thought the defense had the upper hand early today and then the offensive guys came on and got after it pretty good (at the end of practice),” said Stewart.
Several players got nicked up today, most notably running back Noel Devine, who ran into linebacker Anthony Leonard during pass skeleton and bruised his thigh.
“I looked over and he just brushed into Anthony Leonard. It wasn’t a big collision, it was one of those that was kind of a nick and down he went,” Stewart said. “It was good to see him bounce up and he’s fine. He told me he would be OK.”
Others nicked up today were backup running back Daquan Hargrett (ankle), wide receiver J.D. Woods (hamstring) and sophomore defensive back Lawrence Smith (finger).
“I understand he got his finger caught in a helmet and I didn’t mention him because we are waiting for a medical report,” said Stewart of Smith’s injury. “I think he’s going to be fine.”
Several key players are either wearing red or green jerseys and that makes it difficult for the coaches to get a true evaluation of where the team is at right now. Geno Smith (green jersey) continues to run the first group during pass skeleton while Coley White is getting the No. 1 reps during scrimmage situations. Stewart has been pleased with both young quarterbacks.
“Geno has really good awareness and Coley made some nice throws today, the touchdown pass to Tyler Urban, and he threw a nice pass to Eddie Davis and a nice ball to Will Johnson,” said Stewart. “These guys are getting it so it’s good.”
Stewart also mentioned the play of sophomore Tavon Austin, who stepped in at running back in place of Devine and made a couple of outstanding runs.
“I told you about little number one, is he sudden or what? He is there, gone, boom. He was really impressive,” said Stewart.
West Virginia resumes practice on Tuesday in shells.
“Coley is throwing the ball better and better,” said Stewart. “I’m really pleased with Coley White. It’s nice to see him get out there and compete.”
“These guys are starting to get it,” said Stewart. “Sidney (Glover) is moving, I saw Robert Sands and Eain Smith –these guys are moving and flowing and it looks really good.”
“We’re going to have to go back and watch a lot of film this week,” Stewart said.
Regular placekicker Tyler Bitancurt has been in red with an ankle injury.
On the positive side, Stewart was pleased with punters Gregg Pugnetti and Corey Smith, a transfer from Alabama.
“I was really pleased with the way they were rolling to the right,” said Stewart. “We’ve been working all three sides kicking left, middle and right and today we worked backed up, tight punt and I thought it was good.”
“The young man from Morgantown has really gotten my attention and he’s gotten our defensive coaches attention,” said Stewart.
Anderson, the nephew of former Mountaineer basketball standout Jerome Anderson, played tight end/defensive end in football and was a basketball standout in high school. Anderson had some Mid-American offers before choosing to walk on at WVU.
West Virginia has had great success with Morgantown linebackers in the past, with Scott Gyorko and Marc Magro two that immediately come to mind.
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