WVU Spring Practice Notebook: Day 2
Neal Brown held his second spring practice session as West Virginia’s head football coach on Thursday.
His squad opened up the spring on Tuesday, and then on Thursday he put his squad through two hours of drills on a brisk afternoon. It was the second of WVU’s three mandated non-contact days, so the Mountaineers worked out in just shorts, jerseys and helmets. They’ll begin contact work next week.
Observations from Thursday:
• Brown orchestrates the workouts with the use of a headset connected to the loudspeakers on the practice field. He mainly broadcasts period changes and the new drills that come with each, instructing players and coaches where to go and what to do. Almost all college coaching staffs closely follow a detailed script at each day’s practice; Brown does as well, but by announcing the drills, his hope is to avoid confusion and the wasted time that would go with it.
• West Virginia is in search of a new center with Matt Jones, who had started at the position the last two years, having transferred to Youngstown State for his senior season. With last year’s backup center, Jacob Buccigrossi, unable to go this spring as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, Chase Behrndt, Briason Mays, Adam Stilley and Kelby Wickline are all working on snapping the football.
• Brown’s offense doesn’t feature a lot of huge changes compared to the one Dana Holgorsen had been running at WVU past eight years, but the defensive alignment of new West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning is going to take a great deal of adjustment. It can look like either a 4-2 or a 3-3 depending on the positioning of the bandit, which is what Koenning calls his rush end. Zach Sandwisch and Exree Loe worked with the first and second unit respectively on Thursday at the bandit, who at times will play like a defensive end and other times will drop like an outside linebacker.
• WVU’s first defensive line consisted of Reese Donahue at defensive tackle, Darius Stills at nose guard and Taijh Alston at defensive end. Dante Stills, Brenon Thrift and Jeffery Pooler manned those positions with the second unit, and Stone Wolfley, Tyrese Allen and Quondarius Qualls worked at those spots with the third unit. Of course, it should be pointed out that few things change more than an early spring depth chart.
• Mountaineers who were unavailable because of injury included linebacker Charlie Benton, offensive lineman Jacob Buccigrossi, tight end Mike O’Laughlin and linebacker Adam Hensley. None are likely to see action this spring as they rehab.
• Former Mountaineer All-American offensive lineman Brian Jozwiak dropped by practice on Thursday, along with his son Thor, who had a very good college career himself as an offensive lineman at South Florida (2011-15).
• Another interested observer at Thursday’s practice was Fairmont Senior High junior Zach Frazier. One of the top prospects in the state of West Virginia for the class of 2020, Frazier is 6-foot-2, 277-pound two-way lineman who long ago earned a scholarship offer from WVU and has since added offers from Stanford and Wake Forest. A three-time Class AA state wrestling champion, Frazier is a former high school teammate of current Mountaineer d-linemen Darius and Dante Stills, and Frazier made the short drive from Fairmont to Morgantown to see both the former Polar Bears in action on Day 2 of West Virginia’s spring practice.