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Day Eight: The Chain Gang Shows Up at West Liberty

August 14, 2009

    West Liberty University head coach Roger Waialae was seeking a little inspiration as his team entered the second full week of pre-season camp under a hot sun Friday afternoon at Russek Field.

   So he broke out the chain gang.

   Waialae’s chain gang didn’t feature sledgehammers and groups of men breaking large rocks into small ones.

   This “chain gang” was composed of three injured players running the down-and-distance markers along the sidelines while the offense and defense butted heads on the MondoTurf.

roadblock

The defense won its share of battles during Friday afternoon’s practice session at West Liberty. Running back Kevon Calhoun (34) had nowhere to run – and nowhere to hide – on this carry.

   The offense started at its own 25. Quarterback Zach Amedro picked up first downs on three straight third-down passes – two to Ryan Travis and one to Eddie Hills – to set up a 1st-and-10 at the defense’s 12-yard-line.

   But junior linebacker Mike Buffo blew up a toss sweep to Hills for a 3-yard loss and a strong pass rush by the front four forced a holding penalty to push the ball back to the 30. A draw to Hills picked up 7 yards but junior defensive end Ryan Mirich ended the drive when he was credited with a sack.

   The coaching staff ran several different player packages in and out over the next two possessions. Sophomore running back Jimmy Burress ignited the second possession by breaking loose on a 39-yard run. Two quick Amedro passes to Hills and Travis set up a 1st-and-goal from the 10. On the next snap, junior running back Kevon Calhoun bolted up the middle for the only touchdown of the session.

   “I wanted to force some competition,” Waialae said, “and it worked. I thought it was the best drill of camp. The offense did a good job moving the ball down the field and had some good third-down conversions to keep the drive going. Then the defense bowed its neck, made some plays and didn’t break down.

   “We have a lot of playmakers on both sides of the ball but sometimes teams have a tendency to sit back and wait for the big play. We have to be able to move the ball and get stops on a consistent basis and we’re getting a little more consistent each day.

   “Individually, I thought Kevon showed a little burst out there. The O-line and D-line both had some good stretches. Defensively, I thought (Eghosa) Ogbebor did a good job of getting off blocks and making plays.”

   Several players also impressed during the 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 sessions at the start of practice.

   Defensive backs P.J. Polsley and Dashon Fooks each came through with several pass break-ups while wideouts Dontrell Lee and Vinnie Candelore made good receptions on a number of different patterns. The biggest play of the 1-on-1 segment was produced by Lee, who used a nice change-of-pace move to get behind his defender and pulled in an Amedro pass in stride at midfield.

   The highlight of the 7-on-7 segment was provided by wide receiver Willie Walker, who beat double-coverage down the right sideline to haul in a perfectly-thrown bomb from Amedro for a 60-yard TD.

   Today’s photo album is a combination of shots by Sports Information Director Matt Watson and Lady Hilltopper basketball standout Tori Hansen. Once again, there are well over 100 images available. To access the photos, click on the following link Training Camp Photos: Day 8

   Waialae and his staff will put the team through another double session on Saturday, going in full pads at 9 a.m. and returning in “tops” at 3 p.m.

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