By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Throughout the second half of last season so much went wrong with West Virginia’s football team that what may well have been the worst thing went by as if not unnoticed, at least, without drawing much attention to itself.
Bad enough they couldn’t cover receivers, couldn’t rush passers, couldn’t stop running backs and couldn’t make a key play on offense when they absolutely needed to, allow a season that saw them ranked as high as No. 4 slip to 7-6 by the time it was over.
The unseen problem that concerned Coach Dana Holgorsen was a lack of leadership.
“(Leadership) was a big issue on last year’s team, and I mean issue in a bad way,” Holgorsen admitted Monday.
The coach wasn’t in a finger-pointing mood, but one can surmise that perhaps some problems developed from players looking forward toward their place in the NFL than on the current team and, considering the coaching turnover in the offseason, one might guess that the head coach felt the leadership was lacking there, too.
But we’ll never know.
“I don’t want to expand on 2012. We have lessons we could take from 2012, but I’m not going to go into detail on that. There were lessons on things that happened with a variety of people — a variety of people,” Holgorsen said.
Holgorsen doesn’t want a repeat of that this year, especially since leadership must be recreated considering the youth, inexperience and number of junior college imports and transfers brought in that creates a brand new chemistry.
“We’ve talked a lot about that with our group,” Holgorsen said. “We started our meeting last Wednesday with that subject. What defines a leader? What’s the definition of a leader? You can’t really find it. It’s not in any book. It’s not in the dictionary. It’s not the same every year.”
But it has to be developed.
There really isn’t any one type of personality that makes a good leader.
No one was more quiet than Patrick White, yet he was one of the most dynamic leaders WVU has ever had on a team.
Others are more vocal. Some lead by their actions, which is how it appears young safety Karl Joseph will be.
“We need to develop it and we need to find guys we know we can count on,” Holgorsen admitted.
So how do you develop it and where do you find it?
“Everybody on the team, everyone that’s practicing right now — coaches and players — have the capabilities to be a leader,” Holgorsen said. “It starts with being able to lead yourself and doing things right on and off the field. You have to get yourself in position to make plays as well. Once you can make plays then leaders step up and make those plays.”
Everyone’s image of a leader is the quarterback. White, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Joe Montana. The list is long.
“Naturally, it usually is the quarterback but it doesn’t have to be,” Holgorsen said.
There are three quarterbacks fighting for the job now and none has won either the job or the respect of his teammates yet.
“I told all three of the quarterbacks now that they’re not going to be in any leadership groups with me because they have other things to worry about. They have to work on being better at being a quarterback and being the starter,” Holgorsen said.
When that is accomplished, then they show off their leadership qualities.
NOTES: WVU got into partial pads for the first time and Holgorsen said they were “a little sluggish” after having been running around 3 1/2 months in shorts ... There was little for Holgorsen to report on the many position battles that are being waged in camp ... Big 12 officials were in camp Monday to talk about the new “targeting” rule with the team.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.