The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 14, 2013

Holgorsen: This feels like ‘first day’

Coach getting used to new staff, starters

MORGANTOWN — It may be Dana Holgorsen’s third season as head coach at West Virginia University, but considering the changes that his program has undergone from last year to this he admits he feels like he’s starting over.

“From a coaching standpoint, it feels like it’s the first day on the job, so to speak,” Holgorsen said when he addressed the media following the second non-padded spring practice.

Graduation has robbed him of his offensive experience, and the game of musical coaches that was played during the off-season has changed his staff dramatically.

“Offensively, we have so many positions open. We have some new coaches in here and have some new philosophies,” he said. “There’s a lot of open competition for positions, and some scheme discussions that are open as well.”

That sound like a simple enough statement, but it carries with it some rather heavy implications, especially the part about “new philosophies” and “scheme discussions” that are open.

A year ago, with his best offensive players being at quarterback and wide receiver, this would be a passing team. That didn’t necessarily mean throwing the ball around wildly or even throwing it down the field.

In fact, a study done to show which teams were more likely to throw deep showed that WVU’s offense threw the ball in the air four or fewer yards far more often than any other team in college football, scheme and philosophy being to get the ball into a playmaker’s hands quickly and let him do something with it.

And Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and the running backs most likely did a lot with the ball, but the receivers and quarterback Geno Smith have moved on, something Holgorsen has accepted and taken as part of the challenge he and the Mountaineers are facing.

“Everybody gets up in arms thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, how are these guys going to play football without these guys who are going to be drafted in the NFL?’ It happens every year, and in every different program across the country you lose people and you try to move forward,” Holgorsen said.

“As good as Geno, Tavon, Stedman, J.D. (Woods), Shawne (Alston), Joe (Madsen), Jeff (Braun) and Josh (Jenkins) were, they weren’t going to get a lot better. Stedman (who had a year of eligibility left) was in that boat; he wasn’t going to get a lot better if he stayed one more year. He hit that plateau, where it was time to move on to bigger opportunities.”

In college football it is as if you signed a three- or four-year contract, as they do in the NFL. You play it out and then you declare for free agency, so to speak. You go out to earn a living, having been prepared by a college, be it in football or in coaching or business or wherever life is about to take you.

Always there is a stream of new blood, which means that always there are unknowns, the college coach going about his business of preparing these players to perform well for him in the present but also to move on to the future.

“This gives younger guys the opportunity to step up and believe that they are the guy. That naturally happens. Guys get older and get more reps, but also the burden is on their shoulders to become better players. I’m looking forward to seeing which guys those are going to be,” Holgorsen said.

Adding to the unknown aspect this season, however, is a far larger than normal turnover on the coaching staff, which might actually work in Holgorsen’s favor if philosophies must be changed.

For example, the strength offensively this year at the start appears to be a deep running back corps, which is quite different than it was a year ago.

This, along with an inexperienced quarterback and receiving corps, could well make Holgorsen lean toward a team that runs the ball 60 percent of the time rather than 40 percent.

That is what this spring is for … to not only decide who will play but how they will play.

“We are taking it slow and trying to promote the best way to do some specific things,” Holgorsen said. “It feels, though, as we just got here, so to speak. Some staff is new; we have some new bodies out there, some young bodies, guys who haven’t made plays yet.”

And that is equally true on the defensive side, where the staff includes a number of new coaches and where there also has been a heavy — and healthy — turnover.

“We’ve got some guys that are new on that side of the ball. We don’t have too many guys that have gotten to play in this defense. What coach (Keith) Patterson is putting out there is going to be different than what we did last year, from a scheme standpoint, from a structural standpoint and from a philosophy standpoint. It’s like Day 1 for those guys, as well, so it’s exciting to watch those guys and what they’re doing,” Holgorsen said.

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

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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

  • 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

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 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

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    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

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    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

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