Coaching Staff Pleased Halfway Through Spring - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Coaching Staff Pleased Halfway Through Spring


Eight Practices down, seven practices to go for the West Virginia University football team. Then spring practice will be nothing but a memory.

Spring practice began four weeks ago with a new defensive coaching staff preparing to install a new defensive scheme. Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 odd stack defense is gone and reunited with former WVU Head Coach Rich Rodriguez at the University of Arizona.

Enter Co-Defensive Coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson. They are installing a 3-4 scheme and appear pleased with the progress to this point.

"We are where we want to be, but obviously we still have a lot of things to cover," DeForest said. "As far as the effort and the attitude and their enjoyment of the game, it has been great to watch them. About halfway through they are right where we want them to be. We just have to fine-tune some stuff to make us better."

DeForest says his goal is to have about 75 percent of the defense installed by the end of spring practice. He said the other 25 percent will come in the fall and that it is mostly more game-specific plays that will be more tailored to their opponent on a given week.=

The media is only permitted to watch the first 30 minutes of practice. Most of that time is spent on special teams and individual drills. There is one period devoted to some sort of competition between offensive and defensive players. 

One of those drills is called the Oklahoma Drill. Click on the video above to see what the drill looks like. There are three stations. Each station features a quarterback and a running back. One station will pit an offensive lineman against a defensive lineman. Another station will feature a linebacker against a fullback. The final station features wide receivers against defensive backs. The idea is for the defensive player to tackle the running back, while the blocker is trying to make sure that does not happen.

There has been great intensity and hitting in that drill. There has also been a great sense of competition and desire to prove something for the players in that drill as well.

"They realize they had a clean slate walking in this spring," DeForest said. "They know what they show out there one-on-one in that competition is how they are going to be judged. Any play you go against any player, you are going to be judged whether you like to compete or not."

I think it is great that we do the Oklahoma drill," Defensive Backs Coach Daron Roberts said. "Every day Coach Holgorsen has us working on third down and everyday we are in the red zone. Those are the most competitive parts of the game. He has done a great job of crafting a practice schedule where we are always in a competitive mode. A small piece of that is the Oklahoma drill. I love it and I can't get enough of it."

Offensive coaches are also pleased midway through the spring. 

"There is a lot of good competition out there," Quarterbacks Coach Jake Spavital said. "The defense is flying around and they are doing a good job of disguising things. We are actually learning a lot and getting a lot better as an offensive unit."

Assistant coaches may be satisfied, for the most part with where they are, but the Head Coach is rarely happy in that area. Holgorsen is, by his own admission, a perfectionist.

"You know that I'm never satisfied with anything," Holgorsen said. "That's part of it. What I'm happy about is that it seems like we're battling back and forth. I had a little concern about that since we have a new defensive scheme and on offense we've got nine starters back. That hasn't been the case. The defense has done well. We'll make some plays on them, but then they make some stops, we make some plays, then they get some stops. I'm happy with the competitive nature where we're at."

Holgorsen has six practices plus the Gold-Blue game to push his team for more progress. He said they will spend more time in the remainder of spring doing more situational work. That will keep the competition at a high level between offense and defense and show the coaching staff more about their players.

Spring practice will come to an end with the annual Gold-Blue game on April 21.

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