By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
His coach staff completed and spring practice now less than a week away, West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen revealed the assignments of his assistant coaches at a media luncheon Monday.
In the new alignment Joe DeForest, who came in from Oklahoma State, and Keith Patterson, who came off Todd Graham’s Pittsburgh staff, will be co-defensive coordinators while Shannon Dawson, the wide receiver coach and a former player under Holgorsen, will serve as offensive coordinator.
DeForest will coach the safeties and Patterson will coach the linebackers as a new defensive alignment is introduced.
Eric Slaughter, recommended to Holgorsen by Dawson, will coach the defensive line while Daron Roberts, who last year coached the receivers, moves to the defensive side of the ball and will handle the cornerbacks.
Veteran WVU coach Steve Dunlap, a former defensive coordinator who handled the safeties last year, will become special teams coordinator and oversee that part of the game while helping with the linebackers.
The offensive side remains the same except that Dawson loses Roberts to the other side. Robert Gillespie continues to coach the running backs, Bill Bedenbaugh coaches the offensive line and Jack Spivital coaches the quarterbacks.
The new defense will replace the 3-3-5 stack used at WVU since Rich Rodriguez’s second season, the change ushered in because Holgorsen believes it is a better alignment to deal with the wide open spread offenses that the Mountaineers will encounter in the Big 12 this season.
That makes this spring for the defense much like last spring was for the offense when Holgorsen was still an assistant and installing a new offense.
“Offensively we got nine starters back, and it is going to make a whole lot more sense to us offensively now,” Holgorsen said. “Having that many starters back, it is more about developing some depth and getting the starters a year better. Everything that we do makes sense. We got goals that we want to improve on obviously, but it is more about just getting these guys better at what they are doing.
“Defensively,” he continued, “it is going to be more like we were offensively last year. It is new coaches, a new scheme and it is kind of a fresh start for a whole bunch of defensive players. Last year, we didn’t have any starters offensively. We took everybody, we re-evaluated them and we ended up getting some guys that hadn’t played in the past like Ryan Nehlan, Willie Milhouse and Tyler Rader and some guys like that and gave them a fresh start.
“We kind of want that same thing to happen to us defensively. Everybody’s slate has been wiped clean, and they can get out there and they can show these new guys what they got.”
Holgorsen gave the staff a Big 12 flavor and it wasn’t simply because his coaching roots are there. Many of the coaches are familiar with the personnel and schemes in the Big 12 so that WVU won’t go in blind.
Patterson comes to WVU from Pitt and prior to that coached at Tulsa, where he faced Holgorsen and a number of other Big 12 teams.
“He has gone up against our offense for the last four years and again, going back to going into the Big 12 and the amount of spread offenses that we are going to be seeing, that is really important to have that kind of philosophy,” Holgorsen said. “We will be able to line up a defense that we want to go to, which is more of a 3-4 defense, and be able to kick it down to a 4-3. There is a lot of variety in what you can do to that, and it is something that over the years has given me problems to the point where I knew that that was the direction that we wanted to go.”
On the offensive side, Dawson’s situation won’t change much as offensive coordinator as the offense is Holgorsen’s baby. Dawson will be up in the press box during games with Spivital while Holgorsen runs the game from the sideline.
NOTES: The graduate assistants will be Vince Cashdollar, who was with the Mountaineers last year, and Andrew McGee, a former Oklahoma State player who was All-Big 12 in 2010 but suffered an injury ... Speaking of injuries, running back Dustin Garrison and safety/linebacker Terence Garvin are recovering from knee surgery and should be full go in June while linebacker Jewone Snow should be back from a shoulder injury in July.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.