The Times West Virginian

Sports

April 21, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Dana: Big plays are on the way

MORGANTOWN — Common knowledge had it that West Virginia was going into its spring game, which culminates spring practice, looking for a quarterback with Paul Millard and Ford Childress dueling it out while Clint Trickett, who is looking for a new home after a less-than-fulfilling career at Florida State, watched from the sideline.

But this was much more than auditions for someone to fill the size 183XXX shoes — or so they seemed — of Geno Smith.

In truth, what all of this is about is finding playmakers … any kind of playmakers for Coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense is constructed on people making plays. True, it helps if the quarterback is a first-round draft pick, but how many 6-inch tap passes did Tavon Austin turn into breakaway gains and how many times did Stedman Bailey’s strong hands and precise pass routes turn an incompletion into a completion and more?

And it isn’t just in the passing game that Holgorsen allows playmakers to do their thing. He put Austin at running back and he rushed for a school record 344 yards against no less a team than Oklahoma and also has among his backs on hand this season Dustin Garrison, who had a 291-yard rushing game before blowing out a knee, and Andrew Buie, who surpassed 200 yards in a game last season.

What Holgorsen was auditioning was playmakers and considering that dimunitive wide receiver Jordan Thompson showed the ability to catch six passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns and Kevin White was able to take a wide receiver screen that was completely covered and turn it into a 46-yard touchdown makes you realize that WVU may not get shut out seven or eight times this season as you may have thought it would.

In fact, Holgorsen says he’s not worried at all about having playmakers on his roster come next fall.

“We have guys in that room who are going to be playmakers,” he said when asked about it following the annual Gold-Blue Spring Game that brought forth a disappointing crowd of about 8,000 who also were unsure if there is life after Geno, Tavon and Stedman.

“Just the nature of the offense and what we do (creates playmakers). No one knows their names yet, because they don’t have experience, but some of those guys have shown really good signs,” Holgorsen said, sounding a lot like the chorus from the song “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band:

Signs, Signs, Everywhere there's signs.

Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.

Do this! Don't do that! Can't you read the signs?

That’s what Holgorsen is doing, reading the signs and waiting for it to happen.

“To sit here and put a mark on any of them, no, I can’t do that because in my mind if you don’t do something in a game it’s probably not worth talking about. We’re going to let them come along,” he said.

That’s why he held back on heaping praise on Jordan Thompson for his performance or even on Kevin White.

Holgorsen believes they aren’t alone and that coming in the fall there is a group of receivers who may not make you forget Austin and Bailey but who might remind you of them.

“We’ll have guys who can make plays,” Holgorsen assured anyone who wanted to listen. “Each and every year that we lost great players the initial reaction is how are we going to score a point? But we’ve had guys step up. We’ll have guys step up.

“We have a whole bunch of receivers who will be competing their butts off all summer long.”

And when you get talented players who have to fight for playing time, things get intense.

“We have guys who will make plays. They may not be here now, but we have four guys coming in that are pretty good playmakers. You add those guys to the mix, there’s going to be a whole lot of competition.

“Sometimes it takes competition for someone to actually emerge. I feel very good about some of those guys.”

So, who are these guys who are coming in and joining Thompson and White among the receivers?

Holgorsen named them.

“We got Shelton Gibson, who was on the sideline today. We have Ronald Carswell, Jacky Marcellus and Mario Alford coming in. We feel real good that they have the ability to make plays in space,” he said.

Some coaches land a playmaking receiver and they are thrilled. Some are more than thrilled with two.

It was that way forever at West Virginia, which had some fine receivers over the years, but didn’t put the premium on playmaking receivers that Holgorsen does.

Now, if he can get a quarterback to get them the ball consistently without making mistakes, an offensive line that opens holes for his running backs and protects his quarterbacks and a defense that slows the opposing Big 12 offenses, he may have a football team capable of matching the neat new Nike uniforms they debuted Saturday and will wear next season.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • NMHS #14 hit.jpg North Marion goes 2-for-2; Fairmont Senior 0-for-2 in tournament

    A day after an 11-0 mercy-rule victory at Philip Barbour, the North Marion Huskies were at it again.
    Chelsi Latocha threw three no-hit innings, Shelby King drove in five runs in the first inning and the Huskies rolled to a 20-0 victory over the winless Fairmont Senior Polar Bears in the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School.

    April 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • Brewers’ Lohse beats Pirates again

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 19, 2014

  • Bucs trade for Mets’ Ike Davis

    The New York Mets traded slumping first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, parting ways with a power hitter who proved to be too inconsistent at the plate.
    Pittsburgh sent minor league right-hander Zack Thornton and a player to be named to New York for the 27-year-old Davis.

    April 19, 2014

  • Penguins wary of Blue Jackets after Game 1 escape

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 19, 2014

  • Tori Postlewait front.jpg East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters

    Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
    If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
    Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • East tennis splits with Polar Bears

    Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
    In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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

  • McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos