WVU Spring Football Practice 2019: Defensive Footwork and Fundamentals
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As West Virginia moves through its final week of spring football practice, position drills continue to build toward the assembly of full team work. Today, defensive techniques, especially in the initial steps off the snap, are in the spotlight.
West Virginia bandits and mike linebackers drill on the proper opening steps to react to blockers, then flip to hone technique on pass drops.
The same sort of focus is evident on this clip of safeties, who ensure that “settling” — returning to a balanced position with both feet on the ground — is a natural part of their routine. This is a key technique in the way defensive backs in the system are coached.
How many times have defensive backs (not just WVU’s) dropped potential interceptions? While all programs throw some passes at corners and safeties, ball skill work has been prevalent throughout the spring for the Mountaineers. This highpointing of the ball emphasizes attacking it at the apex of the defender’s jump, and is just one example of the different ways passes are thrown at defenders. The transition from covering a receiver to catching the ball is a bit more difficult than realized, and it’s a skill that is addressed almost daily during practice periods.
Keep your balance, and you are in position to react. That’s one of the ideas behind ladder drills, which teach choppy steps while picking up the feet. Another point of emphasis is keeping body weight centered over the feet and the head up.
Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, while coaching effort, also demonstrates the “hip snap” — rolling the hips through the tackle to create more points of contact. That turns what would otherwise be an arm tackle into a full body takedown — one that should have a better chance of getting the ballcarrier to the ground.