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Mountaineers work on special teams as fall camp nears conclusion

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It was a heavy special teams day for the West Virginia University football team on Monday at the Steve Antoline Family Practice Field.

Coach Neal Brown said he was not pleased with the way his special teams performed during last Saturday’s scrimmage.

“That was not very good on Saturday so we worked on all the special teams, and I thought we got solid work today,” he said following Monday’s practice. “We made some strides on kickoff and kickoff return, and we’ve got to continue to work on our punt return unit.”

Today’s practice concluded with Tyler Sumpter successfully placing his pooch punt inside the 10-yard line.

Brown said more situational special teams work will take place tomorrow night under the lights inside Milan Puskar Stadium.

“We’re going to do some situational work special teams wise, and we will have a full officiating crew so we will do some end-of-game and end-of-half (situations),” he said. “We need to walk through some of these end-of-game situations – last play of the half, last play of the game and different situations that we are going to do live tomorrow in the stadium with the lights.”

After studying Saturday’s scrimmage tape, Brown said it went about as he expected.

There was some good give and take on both sides of the ball. He thought the running game continues to make strides and was encouraged with the productivity he got from running backs Leddie Brown, Tony Mathis Jr. and Alec Sinkfield, as well as true freshman A’varius Sparrow with the three’s.

He also thought the defense performed well in limiting downfield passing plays while also creating some takeaway opportunities.

The defense failed to come up with any fumbles during the first scrimmage two Saturdays ago.

This afternoon, Brown cited the defense’s work during the two-minute possession period, and he thought the offense performed well during the run period.

Tuesday’s full-go practice will mark the end of preseason training camp. The rest of the week will consist of no on-field activities for the players on Wednesday and then Thursday afternoon initial Eastern Kentucky prep work will begin.

Brown said that’s when the remaining personnel decisions will be made.

“We’re going to evaluate today and then tomorrow,” he said.

Friday will be more EKU work and then Saturday’s practice will be a mock game for the players and staff, according to Brown.

“That’s really about the mechanics and the procedures on game day,” he explained.

A normal game week will begin on Sunday.

A kickoff time and television information for the 2020 season opener against Eastern Kentucky to be played on Saturday, Sept. 12, should be revealed later this week.

Due to safety precautions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was previously announced that no spectators will be permitted in Milan Puskar Stadium to watch the game.

Eastern Kentucky will kick off its abbreviated 2020 season this Saturday afternoon at Marshall. That game will kick off at 1 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN.

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