Football: Coach Holgorsen Press Conference

  • By Daniel Whitehead
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  • August 11, 2011 09:29 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen's news conference following the Aug. 11 practice.

Today was another day. It’s part of the process – you have to stay the course. The guys are out competing and playing hard; their attitude is good. We definitely got something out of it.

On the team’s injuries …
Julian Miller turned his ankle up and will be day-to-day. Darwin Cook got a strained muscle, but he’ll be fine. If a guy’s in a red shirt, he’ll probably miss practice and will be day-to-day.

On the team’s third quarterback…
We have one. I can’t tell you his name, I don’t know where he’s from, I don’t know if he’s left- or right-handed. I don’t know anything about him. He’s going through the acclimation period where he can’t put pads on right now. We’ll figure it out tomorrow. We need as many arms as we can get.

On the offense’s progress…
I feel all right about it, not great, but we’ve been through it twice now, and we can start to evaluate going into the third set of three’s. We’ll bunch it all together tomorrow to get a better idea of where we’re at with the offense. If you mesh everything together and put it all on them at once, then things might get hay-wired a bit. We’ll know more after tomorrow’s practice.

We’re slowing it down a little. Geno (Smith) had everything coming at him so fast, but he’s got good body language and tempo. He wants to do everything so fast. He sometimes does it at a pace that you can’t think very much, and as a quarterback, you have to think. Paul (Millard) is the same way. He’s a sharp kid, but when you try to get a lot out of him and make him do it really fast, then he can blow a gasket, which he’s been known to do. We slowed it down a little bit, and he made progress today.

On the possibility of redshirting Paul Millard…
It’s always good to redshirt if you can. If you don’t need someone, which means you’ve got good depth, then it’s preferable to redshirt. The days are gone when you redshirt the first- or second-best quarterback. If he’s good enough, then you play him. If he’s the third-best quarterback, you redshirt him. Obviously, Paul (Millard) is second, which means you’ve got to have your second guy good to go at all times. That’s part of the challenge of being a backup quarterback - to have the mental capability of being extremely motivated and ready to play at any point, because an injury could happen at the drop of a hat. He’s doing well; we’ll play him.

I’d be surprised if we didn’t play about 12 true freshmen this year. We brought in 16 this year, three of which are offensive linemen, which I doubt will play, That puts you down to about 13, which all 13 might play.

On the preference of sticking with the starters over the backups…
You want to give your second- and third-teamers as much time as you can. It depends on what they bring to the table. If the top two are capable of bringing production to the table, then we’ll play them both. The defensive line will be rolling all the time. The second-team corners will play in nickel situations. The second-team safeties are going to play in specific situations. There are a bunch of running backs that will need to play.

You want to get guys that aren’t in the rotation somehow as give them as many steps as you can. Every game is different.

On the pace of the offense going downfield…
It depends on the feel of the game. I’ve been in games where we put our second team in there and just told them to play football. That means to just play at a normal tempo and just go out and play. I’ve been in games where it’s gotten out of hand. We don’t typically change what we do offensively. That wouldn’t be fair to the kids out there playing. You don’t want to put them in a situation where you get out of the norm of what you typically do.

To slow things down, I usually just call plays really slow. That’s always fun to see a quarterback that’s used to receiving a quick signal have to stand there and ask, “So, what’s the play?” That’s how we slow it down if we need to. If the game’s tight, everyone talks about the four-minute offense. The four-minute offense mean’s that you’re winning. If you’re up by two scores, then you need to use the four-minute offense to be smart and try to milk the clock. You have three plays to do your best to get the first down. If you don’t, then you try to at least take two to three minutes off the clock.

If you’re up by one score and there’s only 3-4 minutes remaining in the game, I’ve seen offenses try to do something different than what they did to get in the lead. All of a sudden, they’re three-and-out, and they’re punting. The other team then has 2-3 minutes and only down by a few points to try to win it. That can get you, so we’ll have to be careful about that.

On the difference of being head coach compared to offensive coordinator…
I’ve given that no thought whatsoever. It will be a new experience for me. Everyone has a time to be a first-game or first-time head coach, right? You’ve got to be in that situation at some point. I’ve been on the sidelines enough and been around a lot of good coaches, so I think I’ve got a good handle on it.

I’ve hired several great coaches to help me out. They can coach the guys on the sidelines, get them on the phones and talk and all that stuff. I’ve been in situations where I’d have to go all the way down the line from five offensive linemen and all the receivers and explain to them what is going on and get them all on the same page. I don’t think I need to do that based on a lot of the guys that I’ve hired. If I need to talk with Jeff (Casteel) about a certain situation, I will.

On the progress of Geno Smith…
Today was better for Geno. I don’t have the numbers yet, but Geno had a good day today. He had his best day so far. He was calmer, and he operated better. The communication was better. He was communicating with everyone and scanning the field. He played better because of that. We were pressing on him a little too much the first few days. The good news is that we didn’t make that mistake two games into the season. He had a good day today.