Drill Sessions: WVU Preseason Football 2019
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While the pads are not yet on for the Mountaineer football team, there are plenty of drills, both of the one-on-one and small group variety, that give glimpses into the competition at certain positions and the items which are being emphasized by the coaching staff as they build toward more full-team activities.
In this first clip, tight ends and wide receivers work on several aspects of blocking from chopping their feet and keeping initial balance to hand positioning. The latter is aided by a teammate holding a frame made of PVC pipe, which provides target areas for the blockers. If the offensive player can replicate that positioning and get into their opponents’ bodies during a game, good blocks should result.
Defensive backs get most of their attention for what they do at the end of a pass play when the ball arrives, but this work occurs at the opposite end of the sequence. Here, assistant coach Jahmile Addae works the defenders on mirroring a receiver’s initial moves at the line, then reacting when the pattern starts. There’s a lot that goes into that quick coule of seconds, from opening up with the correct foot to getting a jam or a tracking hand on the receiver in order to keep in the proper position and maintain leverage.
Many other drills were run during the portion of practice that was closed to photography, but they also illuminate the lessons being taught and those fundamentals important to the coaching staff.
— Edge pass rushing drills with one rusher against a full size dummy allowed technique work on turning the corner, maintaining balance and getting into the backfield quickly
— Quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan often espouses the importance of mental reps, wherein the QBs who aren’t participating in a particular play run through everything he should be doing were he involved in the snap. During 11-on-11 work, those QBs stand behind the live QB and go through the entire sequence of the play, down to shadowing the throw they would make in passing situations.
— Special teams units were broken down into composite groups for more attention to detail. For exxample, in addition to full-team 11-on-11 kickoff coverage work, several reps were run with just the left side or the right side of the coverage and return teams participating. That allowed each coach to focus on fewer players and correct mistakes more quickly while also evaluating how the side works together.
The same went for the placekicking unit, which split its blockers into interior and wing groups to work on the techniques that keep rushers at bay.
— The turnover circuit was also featured, with several different defensive stations promoting rip and strip techniques and fumble recovery practice. Offensive players were countered with ball protection routines, including while running through ladder drills as managers pounded away at the ball with pads.
“Run fits” is a phrase you’ll hear in just about any conversation with a defensive coordinator, as it’s a vital first step in stopping an offense’s running game. Run fits are the way in which a defense covers each running gap or lane available to the offense, and the execution of them is critical. Miss a fit, and the gap can turn into a gaping hole that yields a big gain. For an example of how one blown run fit assignment can do this, see the following from the WVU-Oklahoma game in 2017. Ten WVU defenders execute, one doesn’t, and it’s a 65-yard gain.
So, with that in mind, one of the first tasks in installing a defense is teaching run fits. It’s not just one concept, as different offensive alignment can change them, as can the defensive personnel or call. Here, WVU’s defensive front and second level work on their run fits.