MORGANTOWN - Bill Stewart was not happy with the way West Virginia's sixth practice of the spring went Wednesday, and while there might be a bit of an excuse for that, the Mountaineer coach didn't want to hear it.
"Football's a very tough game, and not just banging. Mentally it's tough,'' Stewart said. "And right now I'm not pleased.''
The physical toughness aspect of practice was apparent from the start Wednesday before a single pad had been cracked. The number of green and red injured jerseys was significant.
The green [limited contact] troops included tailbacks Noel Devine and Shawne Alston, in addition to quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Brad Starks, who have been limited all spring. In red [out of practice] jerseys, the players included tailback Daquan Hargrett, cornerback Keith Tandy and receiver J.D. Woods, among others.
One of the few players who was actually upgraded was kicker Tyler Bitancurt, who went from red to green but still did not practice because of a bad ankle.
"There were too many busted assignments and the reps were not crisp,'' Stewart said. "You get a couple guys nicked up, dinged up, putting on a red jersey or a green jersey and all of a sudden leadership starts spiraling down. I'm not pleased with that.''
Good problem to have
Don Barclay was talking this week about how difficult it is sometimes to know where to block defenders when shifty backs like Noel Devine, Jock Sanders and Tavon Austin are carrying the football.
The junior left tackle has had plenty of experience the last two years and he still doesn't always know because it is so hard to know where those backs are going to wind up.
"As much as it's difficult, it's also good,'' Barclay said. "Sometimes I'm coming around on a play that's supposed to go to my side, and the next thing I know the ball is on the other side.
"At the same time, it's cool to get them out into free space because they'll make you right on your block. If you're blocking to a side you're not supposed to, they'll cut up to the other side and make you look good. They're great players, so it's always fun to play with them.''
In memory of fallen miners
On Monday, Stewart attended the ceremony in Charleston to honor the 29 miners killed in an April 5 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County.
On Wednesday, he announced that in honor of those miners the Mountaineers will wear a helmet decal during the April 30 Gold-Blue game and throughout the 2010 season - a white circle with a black 29 in the middle.