Mountaineers able to work out with pads as spring practices continue
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012 01:03
Yesterday marked the third practice of the spring for West Virginia, which meant the team was able to put on pads and get physical for the first time.
While the players were ripe with excitement, they weren’t the only ones walking around practice with a little extra pep in their step.
The assistant coaches might have even been more enthused than the players.
For first-year defensive coordinator Joe DeForest, today was the first time he was able to see his new unit go full-speed – something he admitted was very impressive to see.
"I thought it was very exciting. These kids play hard," he said. "Their practice tempo is amazing, and I’m very impressed.
"We just have to keep piecing different defensive fronts and whenever we put it all in, we’ll see what sticks on the wall and what we want to go with in the season."
DeForest hopes the addition of pads will allow the defense to make great strides as it continues to get familiar with the new staff.
"When we saw them offseason, it’s just them running around doing drills. (The addition of pads) was a great step," he said.
"They did an unbelievable job of handling the pads and handling their teammates and flying to the ball."
Co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson believes there is a clear difference in the attitude and focus of the team when it is wearing pads.
"There is just a difference on the first day with pads," he said. " I was very pleased with what we saw during parts of practice.
"I think we started strong and finished with the intensity that we needed to; we just need to keep bringing it because we can’t let one practice go by without making the most of it."
Patterson and the rest of the defensive staff are in the midst of remodeling the defensive scheme, switching from the 3-3-5 to a more conventional defense.
Patterson installed a couple of things today, and overall, he thinks the switch won’t be too difficult to make.
"For the guys who have experience playing, and even at linebacker, it hasn’t been that big of a transition. We’re moving forward and I like where we are," he said.
"We put in a new coverage and some of the concepts are different, but we’re facing different concepts everyday from our offense. We’re going out there cold turkey and you
basically just have to react to it."
Inside receivers coach Shannon Dawson noticed the heightened confidence the team has, particulary from the defensive side of the ball.
"I really sense it from the defensive side, I think those guys have good energy, and they really seem like they’re having a good time," he said.
"That bleeds over to our side too and they just feed off each other. We try to create an atmosphere where people are happy to play, so hopefully that shows."
That same type of atmosphere is being developed amongst the coaches, something DeForest thinks is a byproduct of head coach Dana Holgorsen’s coaching hires.
"We’re getting along great. We have great meetings and we’re getting to know each other and our tendencies," he said.
"I think we have a great staff put together, Dana did a great job, and I think as we work together throughout spring and fall camp it’s going to get much better."