Football: Coach Holgorsen News Conference
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU coach Dana Holgorsen’s weekly news conference.
Moving on to game No. 5 - Bowling Green. You look back at their past 10 years and they’ve got some impressive wins over BCS schools. Looking back at the bowl games they’ve been to, you see they’re a good, quality program. We’ve got to be ready to go. We’ve said it from week one to week two and from week three to week four - you have to get over the game you just played, regardless if you win or lose or if you played good or played bad. It doesn’t matter; you get to work on Sunday and get over it. You go be a student and get your academics in line on Mondays, and you show up today ready to go. They have to come sit in here and learn their opponent. They have to figure out who they are and what they like to do. You have to get through the regular week of practice and make sure we’re ready to play on Saturday.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an atmosphere like last week or an atmosphere like we had earlier in the season. Our job as coaches is to make sure that they’re ready to play. We’ll make sure that they know who they’re facing, what their schemes are and what to do to attack them. I’m confident the guys will come in today and be ready to get to work.
On what he’s seen from Bowling Green
Offensively, they’re well-coached. You look back at where coach (Dave) Clawson has been the last decade. He’s been to some I-AA schools and has taken them from being very average to being extremely good. He’s an offensive guy and coaches the heck out of the quarterbacks. They’ve got a sophomore quarterback from California that has a chance to be a really good player. The most experienced position on their team is wide receiver. They have three seniors that have played a lot of ball and can make plays. They’re multiple – they’re going to run a lot of offenses. They’re going to go into motion and get into tight sets. They’ll run the ball at you. They’ve got a true freshman that’s averaging over 100 yards a game. They do things offensively that are pretty good.
Defensively, they’re young. They have a very young secondary, but a really good defensive line. They’ve got guys with experience there which should give us some trouble. They’re very sound; they don’t take a lot of chances. They don’t play a lot of man coverage. They’re not going to blitz you very much. They’re going to make you earn everything you get.
Special teams-wise, they’re No. 1 in the nation in net punting. Their guy has been doing a nice job with that, so we’re going to need to improve this week in that area. We’re last in the country in net punting. Their receiver is a pretty good return guy, so we need to get better in that phase.
On the special teams personnel
We’ll know more this week based on how they practice. That’s the only way of fixing that sort of thing. You have to go out and work on it. Our schemes are fine – it has nothing to do with schemes. It has everything to do with trusting the people on those units. That’s one thing we don’t do a great job of right now is trusting the people on those units. We’re not going to make wholesale changes. The guys we have are the guys we’ve got. We can only coach them to get better. We’ll work hard on it. We’re not going to hit panic mode.
LSU is known to have one of the better special teams unit in college football over the past decade. The part of it that was discouraging for everybody involved was the fact that they were better than us on all four phases. They set the bar, and we’ll have to work hard to get to the point where they are.
On Tavon Austin as the punt returner
Tavon does a great job of catching the football. There’s a lot of ground to cover. As quick as Tavon is, that doesn’t mean that he can go field every one of those. LSU’s punter did as nice of a job as anyone I’ve seen as far as where he placed it. When you pooch the ball, the return guy has to wiggle through some people just to find it. You get to the point that you make the decision to say ‘Peter, Peter’ and get it or just get out of the way.
I’ve got complete confidence in Tavon to be able to get that done. We’ve got to do a better job of holding people up. The people on LSU’s punt team, mainly No. 7 and No. 17, were pretty good players. They got down the field and they made things happen. We’ve got to find where our No. 7 and No. 17 are at in regards to the punting and kickoff teams. We’ve got to put some guys like that in there.
On the balance of the offensive attack and use of running backs
It depends on if you have three freshmen or if you have an All-American back out there. We’re searching for guys that are every-down backs, which we don’t have yet. Dustin (Garrison) came in last week and gave us a half of really good football. His production in one half of football was as good of a performance we’ve had in one half this year.
When you had a guy like Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State) who’s about to start for the 49ers, that means you have to give it to that guy a little more. We’ll get to the point that we trust those guys more and give them the ball more.
The offensive line did a heck of a job at blocking. Pass protection was great last week. Run blocking was relatively good. We’re still missing a guy that can burst through a hole and get through it.
(Andrew) Buie wasn’t ready to play. We’ll re-evaluate it again today like we always do. When our first team goes out today, I imagine Dustin will be there. Whether that’s the case tomorrow, Thursday or Friday, it depends on practice. He played a good half against LSU, which is why we kept him in there. We’ve said competition and how much people will play is based off of what’s happening in the game and how it looks once they’re in there. When Dustin was in there, he looked good. He made some good runs without a lot of space. We kept him in there, and he finished out the game.
On assessing the defense against LSU
They played well. We asked them to be physical against a very physical team, and they were every bit as physical as LSU was. That was really good to see. They gave up a couple of really big plays in the passing game, which needs to be prevented.
We didn’t get any sacks or turnovers. If you look at the turnovers we had, Geno (Smith) was responsible for one, which could have been prevented on the snap. That was on him. Tavon dropped the ball. It bounced off his head and their guy caught the ball. That was on Tavon. Then there were two plays by No. 7 which were probably some of the best plays you’ll see this year in college football. Two were our fault, and two were LSU’s defense making plays.
One thing we stress to our defense is to make plays on the ball - whether it’s in the air, or whether it’s stripping them of the football. They haven’t done it yet; we’ve got three picks in four games, but we’ve got zero fumble recoveries. That’s got to get better.
We were on the wrong end of the turnover margin, but LSU had as much to do with that as we did. We’ve got to make plays on defense to get turnovers, and we’ve got to prevent that when we have the ball.
On how the team is handling the loss
We’ll find out today. I don’t know yet. The one thing I’ve said to them going into this game is that we have to overcome adversity together, and I feel like we’re doing that. There was adversity in all of our first three games, which we overcame together. In this game, we went down 27-7 at halftime and there weren’t any heads down. There wasn’t any get-up mentality. There were a bunch of eager, motivated kids to go out there and play. We won the third quarter. We got out there and scored on offense and defensively stopped them a few times.
We got ourselves back into the game. Due to a few things that happened on all three sides of the ball, we took ourselves out of the game in the fourth quarter. I anticipate that they’ll be back ready to play today.
On communication with Geno
It’s a bunch of hand signals, body language, stares, etc. If I’m aggravated, he (Geno) probably needs to figure out why I’m aggravated. That’s not something you can just take a class on; it’s a lot like the non-verbal communication that goes on between him, Stedman (Bailey) and Ivan (McCartney) due to the fact that they’ve been playing together a long time.
The whole nod and saying, ‘Yes, I get it’ - we’ll get there. We’ll be better at it this week than we were last week. It takes time. I signal to him every day. It’s the same way every day. Sometimes I do something different, and he won’t understand it and sits there and stares, so then I do it again and he’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah. I’ve got it.’ If I make it cut-and-dry, plain as day, then everyone in the stands can figure out what the play is. We’ve got a lot of ways of communicating, a lot of different signals, and that’s between him and me and nobody else.
On helping the team move forward
Every week is different. It depends on how the loss was, what happened, who you’re playing, what the mood is; you have to figure it out. You figure out the beat of your team and you address it. That starts today.
On the play of Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller
I don’t know what’s going on. We’ve got to keep working at it. Whatever the reasons are, they’ve got to overcome them. If there’s frustration on where the effort level isn’t where it needs to be, then we need to figure out how to get the effort. It’s something we’ve talked about. It has nothing to do with coaching. It’s the same guys, the same scheme, same everything, same kids, but that’s just how it is. Maybe people are keying on them more or maybe the schemes are built in to the point they can’t get to the ball, but regardless what the excuses are, our job is to put them in the best position to be successful. Their job as players is to work hard and be ready to play the game and give it everything they’ve got.
On concerns as conference play is approaching
There are concerns as far as the running game goes. We’re responding to that challenge. We got a little worn down in the fourth quarter, but they’re a good running team and their backs look good. LSU has some very good, quality running backs. Bowling Green is coming in with a running game that’s challenging and they have some good backs, too. Our job is to fill gaps, play physical and stop the run.
On scheduling MAC schools and smaller regional opponents
I think it’s good. We’ve got a lot of guys from Ohio and there’s a lot of quality MAC opponents. These guys have won a bunch of MAC championships. They’ve been to a bunch of bowl games and, over the past 10 years, have won a lot of games against automatic qualifying members. This is a quality opponent. This isn’t a fill-in game. This is a quality opponent.
Scheduling is done so far in advance. This thing has been scheduled for quite some time. There’s only one opening in the next five years or so.
On the offensive success Bowling Green has had this year
I’ve only watched bits and pieces of what they’re doing this year. Coach Clawson is a good football coach. He’s an offensive guy – he’s a quarterbacks guy. The couple of places he was at prior to Bowling Green, he rebuilt and got to the point that they were winning a whole bunch of games. That’s why he’s moved up the coaching ladder. It has everything to do with him knowing what he’s doing offensively and being able to coach the quarterbacks. He gets them to go where he wants them to go, and he has them make plays.
They’re relatively young. He had a bunch of seniors a couple of years ago and had success; now he’s been dealing with younger players. They’ve got 16 freshmen in their two-deep and about 10 sophomores in there, too. They’re a team that’s rebuilding, which means that they’re going to get better. In their first four games, they’ve gotten better.
On the talent level of LSU
They’re as good as any team I’ve seen. Whether the ball bounces their way over the next nine games to where they get to play for the national championship, I don’t know. They play good, quality people. They play other good teams. The talent, the coaching, the schemes - they’re as good as any other school.
On fake injuries
I don’t know if they happened on Saturday night or not. They do exist in college football. That’s not any of my business – there’s nothing I can do about it. It depends on the referees and how they manage the game and what they think is going on. I can’t do anything about it. I’m not going to worry about it, and we’re not going to let it destroy our momentum if it is happening. We just have to keep playing the next play.
Dana Holgorsen, WVU, WVU football
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