Football: Coach Dana Holgorsen News Conference
West Virginia University
Dana Holgorsen News Conference
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011
Opening Statement ...
We had 19 practices in camp, which ended on Saturday. We had a short scrimmage on Saturday. We didn’t get as many snaps asI wanted to on Saturday because we were down to one center. Then we kind of switched gears and had a lift day on Sunday. It was sort of a rest day, but it was also a big academic day. The guys switched to becoming more of student-athletes on Monday. They were scheduling and going to classes. Monday will be our off day. On Tuesday and Wednesday, you deal with a bunch of distractions in getting your schedule and finding out where the classes are.There is a whole bunch of students on campus too. These guys have to learn how to juggle how to be a good student-athlete. They have to be able to switch gears and get the most out of each other for four hours. The last couple of days have been different, because we haven’t just been working football all day.Saturday will be kind of like a mock day. We won’t scrimmage, but we will practice transitioning back and forth from offense to defense to special teams.After that, it will be all about preparing for Marshall. We had a walk-on tryout the other night, and we had about 80 kids. We added about 10 when school started on Monday, and from the tryout, we added about 10 more. That will help our numbers from a practice standpoint.
On depth at center…
We are okay there. (John) Bassler was out a week ago from the stinger he had, but he is back. (Jeff) Braun is the starting guard, and he will be the emergency center. We have three guys who can snap it, and they all practiced yesterday. Bassler was out and (Joe) Madsen had a stinger, but he was fine the next day. We were just down to one during the scrimmage.
On offensive line improvement…
The first team, yes. Don Barclay has been really consistent. He is a senior, and we are glad we have him. Braun is the most vocal guy, and he has done well. Madsen is one of the best centers I have been around. (Tyler) Rader is an overachiever and a tough guy. The right tackle spot is something that we have talked about a bunch (Pat) Eger is still ahead of(Quinton) Spain. The rest of the guys are just backups. We would like them to push the first teamers a little more, but they are what they are.
On other position battles…
Receiver-wise, we are developing our eight, but I want those second team guys to beat out the first team guys. Stedman (Bailey)and Tavon (Austin) have solidified the fact that they are pretty good and we will play them as much as possible. Ryan Nehlen and (Ivan McCartney) have been battling. Right about the time you think Ivan has edge, then Ryan comes back and has his best day since he has been here. That is an ongoing deal. (Tyler) Urban and (Devon) Brown will play pretty evenly. Running back is the same deal. Those guys keep battling, but I am not ready to name a starter yet. All four of them will play. Fullback is a different battle, but it is fun to watch because you have three guys that are battling it out. A guy that has taken a slight lead at this point is Ryan Clarke, which is good to see.
Defensively, we are linebacker looking for backups more than anything. Casey Vance has been playing okay. When you have a guy like Josh Francis behind him, who is more talented, but if he isn’t going in the right direction, we have to play the other guy. We would like a lot of position battles, so the more the better.
On depth at this time of the year…
It is everywhere. You take elite schools, they are going to complain about depth too. The NFL complains. We are not complaining.We are just working hard to get as much depth as possible. If those second team guys can play like that, then they will play like that. You rely on a lot ofsecond team guys to fill special teams roles. You need to be able to trust a second teamer, if needed. If you can’t trust him, then it is hard to put him out there on special teams.
On the running back battle…
No, we haven’t solidified anything yet. We have the four young kids and they are all practicing hard. We will continue to evaluate them. The three fullbacks are still battling. All seven of those guys are going to play. I have never been anywhere that seven running backs are going to play. It is our job to continue to narrow down when we are going to play certain guys and how much we keep them in there.
On differences in the running backs…
Somebody has to run out there first. Whoever the quote/unquote starter is going to be will mean more to that guy than it does to us. We know that they are all going to play. Throughout the course of the game,we will decide who to put in there the most. We don’t know how that is going to happen. A specific person can get jacked up about, but that has no meaning on how much someone is going to play.
On running backs in pass protection…
They are getting better. With young kids, you always worry about that. When they aren’t very big, you really worry about that, but they have had lots of reps and opportunity. All four are picking up their assignment, and they know where to go to. They are battling and playing hard. We are going to know more about them when we see the live stuff.
On the return game…
Tavon will do both. Stedman is going to do some kick returns. Brodrick Jenkins is going to some of both. He is a talented kid that can catch it. (Andrew) Buie can be back there on kick return. We have about four that can be kick return guys, and two that can be punt return guys. J.D.Woods can do both. We have enough bodies. The bigger thing is finding front line bodies that we trust to go in the right direction and get blocks. You can’t just put it in the return guy’s hands and tell him to work his magic.
On impression of Marshall…
I don’t have any impression on them so far. We started to get some of the looks in practice. We haven’t talked about it at all. We will gradually start easing in some film. We have been getting the looks. A lot of the looks they will be getting next week, they will be familiar with, but starting to talk about personnel will happen on Sunday.
On game day prep…
We will start sprinkling in looks for familiarity,but as far as nailing the actual game plan, we won’t do that until Sunday.
On the walk-ons…
The 20 we added are still in shorts. There are a few that threw up. Those guys are still in the five-day non-contact period.
On Matt Moro and junior college…
He is still learning. He hasn’t been coached, but for two weeks now. He is going to continue to get better and better, or at least he should. If their junior college experience was pleasant, then yes they probably appreciate it a little more. If their junior college experience wasn’t pleasant, then whatever. It is probably more of an individual thing.
On team chemistry…
It has been good. You get into the point in camp when everything is the same, and you are tired of each other. This week is the hardest point of the year. You have to figure out how it all works. I feel good about where we are at. A lot of it depends on how today and tomorrow goes. We challenged them to get better at football and get better at the daily grind. It gets to the point where you don’t know how good you are and can’t get any better until you play a game. We are getting to that point now. We have to do a good job of preparing to win next week. We have good coaches that can get that message along to them.
On recruiting Andrew Buie…
He was the most challenging guy to close on.(Robert) Gillespie did a great job of getting to know the family and the kid.He had him ready to go until all the rumors about Robert going to Florida started. Robert did a great job of staying on the phone with him. It was fun to watch Robert de-recruit for a little while because of all the pain and agony he put him through. Whenever we got him here and started making plays, we forgave him. He has a chance to be a good player, but so does (Dustin) Garrison, Vernard (Roberts) and Trey (Johnson). All four of them have some ability to make some things happen. You have to them in a live situation to see how they can handle the crowd and the live action. He looks good, but we need to get them in a game.
On running back pecking order…
No we don’t have one yet. It depends on how they practice today. It changes on a daily basis. I ask Robert every day, and his order changes every day. He is the one that gets paid to be the running backs coach, so if his opinion changes, so does mine.
On him taking in the opportunity at West Virginia…
I don’t think about it to be honest with you. We have our daily schedule, and we have staff meetings in the morning. Then we have film sessions and practice and position meetings, so my day is pretty consumed about what the daily tasks are. I don’t think much past that. I’ll think about it when I’m old and retired. Let’s worry about beating Marshall.
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