The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

April 7, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: Mountaineers focus on self, not new opponents

MORGANTOWN — One may have expected, when it was announced that West Virginia University was moving from the Big East to the even “Bigger 12,” so to speak, that the coaching staff would be scurrying around gathering film and intelligence on the teams they will be playing and passing that information on to their players.

It isn’t like the Mountaineers moved into the Ivy League.

The schools here are national football powers, schools like Oklahoma and Texas and Oklahoma State and Kansas State and TCU.

These are schools that battle for national, not regional prominence, schools with rich histories in the sport and a list of coaches and players that fill the College Football Hall of Fame.

That hasn’t happened, though. With Dana Holgorsen as head coach, it is mostly about West Virginia and what it does, be it in Pittsburgh, Pa., or Pittsburg, Kansas.

Oh, the coaches are virtually all out of Big 12 country, if not out of one of the schools that plays there, so they have their own familiarity with what makes the conference tick and what a school must do and can’t do to be successful.

Sharing such stuff with the players, however, has not be emphasized over the off-season or in spring camp.

“No, not much,” 1,000-yard wide receiver Stedman Bailey answered when asked if they had been pouring over scouting reports of their new opponents. “We’re focused on getting better here. When the time comes, we’ll scout those guys up and get a plan.”

Even quarterback Geno Smith has not been given a crash course in defense, Big 12 style.

“Not really,” he said. “During my time here with Coach Holgorsen, we’ve never really done that. We focus on executing these plays. In this system, it really doesn’t matter what the defense does. We just have to be able to sight adjust and be able make plays on the fly.”

It is a unique, almost cocky approach to the offense, but one Holgorsen has made stand up. He believes his offense is able to handle any challenge, if executed as it should be, and he has sold his quarterback on that.

“We script every possible circumstance,” Smith said. “When game day comes, it’s not new to us because we’ve already been through it at practice.”

What he tries to do is not lay such matters as strategy on his players’ shoulders. He teaches them how the offense should react to a certain defensive plan within his offense and relies on his coaches to put them into formations and plays that work against that particular defense.

Especially in the spring, it isn’t time to be dissecting Texas defense or Oklahoma’s secondary.

Spring practice is much like spring break … it’s time to make yourself look better, feel better and play better.

“We just need to get better,” Holgorsen said about his approach in the spring. “You know that I’m never satisfied with anything. That’s part of it. What I’m happy about is that it seems like we’re battling back and forth.”

In truth, Holgorsen was worrying a whole lot more about his own defense than Texas’ or Oklahoma’s.

“I had a little concern about that since we have a new defensive scheme and on offense we’ve got nine starters back, but that hasn’t been the case. The defense has done well. We’ll make some plays on them, but then they make some stops. We make some plays; then they get some stops.

“I’m happy with the competitive nature where we’re at, but we’ve still got a long ways to go from an assignment standpoint and from a schematic standpoint.”

There are some critical things Holgorsen wants to make sure improve before the end of spring, things you wouldn’t necessarily believe would be worrying a coach who is coming off an Orange Bowl victory in which that offense scored 70 points.

But, as Holgorsen said, he’s a perfectionist and will always have something that he wants to improve.

“What we need to do to get better is find backups, but from a situational thing, we’ve got to get better on third downs, get better at the scoring percentage in the red zone, the touchdown percentage in the score zone, better at short-yardage and goal-line situations,” Holgorsen said.

If the Mountaineers do that, Oklahoma or Texas can play 12 men on defense, and his offense will have an answer.

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

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

    July 25, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos