Per NCAA regulations, Appalachian worked out in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts on Sunday after conducting its first two practices of the season in helmets and shorts. Another practice with just helmets and shoulder pads will be held on Monday before the Mountaineers are permitted to work out in full pads on Tuesday.
Sunday's practice lasted for a little over two hours with the session almost evenly divided between extensive special-teams work and regular offensive and defensive drills.
All phases of special teams were addressed during the first hour of practice. Highlights included:
• projected starting place kicker Sam Martin drilling 8-of-8 field-goal attempts, including a 45- and 47-yarder;
• a pair of long kickoff returns sprung by terrific blocks by true freshmen. First, sophomore Tony Washington streaked up the right sideline following a huge block by Darius Smith, who was deep with Washington on the return. One play later, senior Cedric Baker Boney followed nearly the exact same path that Washington took up the right sideline thanks in large part to a vicious block from Doug Middleton;
• Smith and Middleton were just two of a large number of true freshman seeing time on the Mountaineers' primary special-teams units. Henry Barnes, Bobo Beathard, Brandon McGowan, Joel Ross and Jamal Ware all saw extensive time on punt and kickoff coverage units. Beathard made one of the more impressive special-teams plays of the day with a particularly nice stop on a kickoff.
After individual position and group drills, the Mountaineers worked 11-on-11 for the first time this season during the final period of practice. Junior-college transfer Steven Miller was the offensive star of the 20-minute 11-on-11 period, using his incredible speed and quickness on several long runs. In particular, the 5-9, 180-pound running back from Piscataway, N.J. picked up a pair of long gains on carries between the tackles — one off left guard on the second play of the period and one off right guard minutes later.
Defensively, junior safety Troy Sanders made the defensive play of the day when he lunged in front of a pass intended for Jamill Lott, made the interception then kept his balance to make a long return. Ed Gainey and Dan Wylie, ASU's lone senior returning starters on defense, were also impressive with Gainey providing very nice pass coverage and Wylie stuffing the run on a few occasions from his nose tackle position.
On a somber note, wide receiver Mo Gore, a walk-on freshman from nearby Watauga High School, was transported to Watauga Medical Center after sustaining a leg injury during one-on-one work versus the defensive backs. His condition will be updated on Monday.