The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

August 26, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Holgorsen: First team is motivated

MORGANTOWN — Before going into media seclusion with his team in the week following camp, West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen made an interesting — and important — observation.

“First team, we are really happy with, and the motivational level they are playing with is extremely satisfying,” he said.

In part, the statement was interesting because it seemed odd.

Are not all first teams across the country motivated as camp comes to an end and the season draws near? After all, if you are not motivated at that point, will you ever be motivated at all?

Why would this, then, stand out to Holgorsen enough that he would mention it?

That required some thinking and in so doing, it well may have hit upon how Holgorsen has approached this entire season, his third as head coach.

A year ago his Mountaineers were coming off a 10-3 season that included an overwhelming 37-point Orange Bowl victory over Clemson, were loaded with a senior class that was laced with a half dozen potential NFL draft selections and moving into the Big 12.

This was a team that seemingly couldn’t wait to get into the new season and rolled through the first five games as if they were on a nonstop express to a Big 12 championship and maybe a national championship game, only to come unwound as the year progressed.

This year’s team has no such momentum heading into this year. In fact, there is no hype around the team at all. It is a group without such stars as Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey coming off five losses in its last seven games, including a dismal performance in a 38-14 loss to Syracuse in something called the Pinstripe Bowl.

That, of course, does not lead to confidence, and confidence leads to motivation.

It is, too, a team without designated leaders, especially in the key positions such as quarterback, center or middle linebacker.

The Mountaineers are a young team trying to find its personality and ability level, one that has brought in not only freshmen but a lot of junior college players and important upperclass transfers such as quarterback Clint Trickett and running back Charles Sims.

Again, a team in search of itself cannot yet have developed the confidence that leads to motivation toward team goals.

Holgorsen, it would appear, had some apprehension about the motivation, which may well be why he turned his game into an audition for his players. Wherever he could, he created competition and kept it going, pushing it as hard and as far as it would go.

Players feeling they could win a starting job certainly are highly motivated as a group, will work harder and experience playing under pressure than if they feel they are competing only for a backup role.

That could be why, as camp came to an end, he narrowed his statement down to the first team, for by this time most of those jobs had been settled upon, even though he wasn’t revealing it to the public.

Those who had won the starting jobs could build upon that success, feel going into the season they were doing it because they had earned it, rather than feel it was simply bequeathed them because Geno Smith was now a Jet or Tavon Austin was now a Ram.

Instead of feeling they were entering the season off those five losses in seven games and a huge bowl failure, they could feel they were going into the year off a personal triumph and believing they were the right person to lead the team to new heights.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads