Dana Holgorsen News Conference
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media for his weekly media conference.
The WVU football program and the American Football Coaches Association are partnering together this week for two initiatives. Though a partnership with the AFCA and the FBI, child identification kits will be distributed to the fans as they leave the game on Saturday and both coaching staffs will be wearing patches on their shirts in a joint effort to support "Coaches to Cure MD.”
FBI Section Chief Chris Enourato’s Statement
As a part of our community outreach effort, we partnered with the American Football Coaches Association back in 2002, and we are going to be handing out child ID kits at the Baylor game on Saturday. We will begin handing them out toward the end of the third quarter, and we will go until the end of the game. The reason that we do this is because we take the kids’ safety seriously. Every year we have about 800,000 kids throughout this country who are missing either through runaway, parental abduction or nonparental abductions, and this is a great way for parents to have a finger print card that they can finger print the kids and also a DNA swab of the upper mouth that they can keep and can give us some biometric evidence or life measure evidence that if one of these cases should occur where these kids come up missing, we have some evidence to try and track them.
This is an important initiative. Grant Taft is the AFCA director. He is a former coach at Baylor, and we are not going to hold that against him, but he will be here this weekend and we hope to have him distribute one of the kits for us.
Dana Holgorsen - Initiative Statement
I appreciate all that you guys are doing. Being a parent myself, I know how important this is, and we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can. I think that the child ID kit is very important obviously, and I think it is a fantastic way to give a piece of mind to a bunch of parents out there like myself. That is outstanding to do that, too.
I know that Grant Taft is coming in this weekend. We are not going to hold it against him, but he was a fantastic football coach and Baylor is doing a great job with the AFCA. I have been a member for about 20 years and get things from him on a daily basis. He is not only interested in what football does for a bunch of student-athletes out there, but also what it does from a publicity standpoint. He does things that make the game better and make everything around the game better. There is no better way to get him up here from doing those two things.
The other thing that we are going to be doing is that you will be noticing that West Virginia and Baylor coaching staffs will be taking part in the annual Coach to Cure MD Campaign. We have been involved with this for the last five years. We are going to wear a patch on our arms that are going to be in support of that.
Those are two great things that the AFCA is doing and will make this weekend even better then it is going to be.
Dana Holgorsen - Opening Statement
Along those same lines, this is going to be a very festive weekend. It is going to be very festive from a West Virginia football standpoint, and also from a national standpoint. It has been a long time coming. Eleven months ago, we made the announcement that we were going to go to the Big 12, and a lot of people wanted to get excited about it. I specifically remember that Friday, we were about to do our walk through to play Rutgers, and it came across the TV that we were going to the Big 12 and everyone was excited about it but me. I was like, “Geez, we got to go play a football game here.” So we gathered the team out there on our Friday walk through and we said at one point, we are going to start talking about the Big 12. This is not the time that we are going to be talking about the Big 12, and we focused those guys and we went up and won a game at Rutgers.
The season ended, and then everyone wanted to start talking about the Big 12. From a university standpoint and from an athletic department standpoint, that took place, which was incredibly important. We tried to just focus on our football team and what we needed to do to get better. We needed to recruit in the offseason, which I think we did a fantastic job.
Now the Big 12 is upon us, and the biggest questions are what are you going to do different? Well, we are really not going to do a whole lot different. I think over the course of time, West Virginia, our football team, and everyone else will get more familiar with the Big 12 and the Big 12 will get familiar with West Virginia. But I think it is going to take games for that to happen. This Saturday marks the first game that this is going to happen, and we are excited about it and we are excited about the future of West Virginia football. From a coaches’ and players’ standpoint, we need to know our opponent. We need to make it a regular week, we need to ignore a bunch of outside distractions and we need to get our kids ready to play Baylor.
We are not playing the Big 12, we are playing Baylor. We need to do a good job because they are a quality football team. They have won nine games in a row. I have personally competed against Baylor nine times. I know a lot about them, and I have worked with coach (Art) Briles for three years. Our team needs to get to know Baylor, what their schemes are, what their players are and what we have to do to win the game on Saturday. Over the course of time, we will get more familiar with the Big 12.
On what he said to the players about Big 12 play
Our goal in the beginning of the season, and I think this is the same goal for everyone that competes in college football, is to win the conference. If you win your conference, especially the Big 12 conference, then you go to a BCS game and there is potential of playing for a national championship. This is step one in achieving that goal. It is conference time - each and every game is important. This is the one where we need to do what we have to do to win the game. Today, in about two hours, I will stand right here in front of the team and tell them a whole bunch about Baylor. This is what Baylor is all about and this is what we have to do to win the game.
On any advantages to being the new conference member
I don’t think it makes any difference. There aren’t any secrets out there when it comes to what our game plans are going to be. You watch a whole bunch of film, and we have as much film on Baylor as Baylor has on us, which was the same amount of film that we had on Maryland. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much film you can watch. We will do our best to prepare them with what we think they are going to do and what we think they are, and then it is about getting them out there and ready to play.
From a comfort standpoint, you would always prefer to play at home. That is no secret. Hopefully we will use that to our advantage this week, and then next week, we are going to have to play on the road.
On Baylor and what the team must do to win
Art has been there for five years, and I hope four years from now, I can say the same thing about West Virginia from a program standpoint. The program is established. He has made his mark on the program. He has 30 guys that are in their two-deep that are juniors and seniors. Their retention has been good.
From a coaching staff standpoint, their retention has been good. That wasn’t the easiest job that he took over four to five years ago, and he got it to the point that they are going to bowl games. They are winning, they are ranked, they are being talked about on a national standpoint and they are building facilities that are fantastic. What he has done with that program over the last five years is impressive. It is not a surprise because he did the same thing at Stephenville High School, a prominent school in Texas. He did the same thing at Houston, and he is doing the same thing at Baylor.
On cultural differences between the Big 12 and the Big East
There is a cultural difference, and we are still adapting to it. The biggest difference is the amount of kids that play in those (Big 12) games compared to the Big East games. You can go into a Big East game and plan on playing about 40 kids which happened last year and has happened here for a long time. That is hard to do when you are taking that many snaps. Baylor is averaging 90 snaps a game. Defensively, they are defending an average of 87-88 snaps a game. Last week, against Maryland, because of what their game plan was, we each got 67-68 snaps. Based on what Baylor is going to do - they are going to go up tempo and they are going to play fast - they are going to play a lot of snaps, and that means we are going to take a lot more snaps on offense as well, which means you have to play more people. I have been saying this for some time - this is the biggest difference in the Big 12 and the Big East. I think the culture is changing in the Big East a little bit. They brought in teams like Houston and Boise State, and I think that culture is going to change, too.
On the difference between football at schools in Texas and football in West Virginia
The skill is good. Baylor has great skill. I have made reference to this from a recruiting standpoint - those guys have played football since they were in third grade. They are playing a lot of football when they are in junior high. When you get them, they are probably more game ready from a skill standpoint, not from a talent standpoint.
On Shawne Alston playing Saturday against Baylor
He is day-to-day. He didn’t practice much last week, and he could have played a little bit more on Saturday, but he didn’t practice Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, so we thought that it was in our best interest not to play him. It is a long season, and if you are not healthy enough to practice during the week, then you’re probably not going to play on Saturday. That was our stand with that. He was an emergency guy and got in a few times. He will need to practice today, tomorrow and Thursday at a high level to count on him playing Saturday. Do I expect that to happen? Yes, I do.
On how to manage the game when facing a more up-tempo offense
The rule is that if the offense subs, then the defense matches. If Baylor doesn’t sub, then we better be careful about subbing because they are going to snap it. I do the same thing offensively because if I don’t sub, and they feel like they need to sub, we are going to go ahead and snap it. You have to pay attention to their sideline and find out what their personnel groups are, and you have to match it.
I know one thing that happens, and they are tricky about it and I have known this for long time, but the ball will go off on their sidelines and you have a big cluster of people on their sidelines, and then they sub. It doesn’t look like they subbed, and then they snap it. That is against the rules, and we talked to the officials about that prior to the game. Bottom line - if they sub people, we have to sub people. That allows you to match it to the point you can get yourself lined up before you snap it.
On how the team’s compare to each other
(We’re) pretty different. You have to remember that I worked at Texas Tech in 2002 and that was 10 years ago, and I have a hard time figuring out what I did 10 days ago. He has been at two different stops and has evolved, and I have been at three different stops and have evolved. We haven’t sat down and talked football in 10 years. Just from watching it there on film, there is obviously some differences, which if you go and study it, there is quite a bit of differences from what I am doing now and what I was doing at Texas Tech. Let alone, what we did at Texas Tech in 2002 and what he did at Houston in 2004.
On running 1-vs-1 more in practice this week
We always do two periods a day for speed of the game. If there is crossover, then we talk about that as a staff and we try to help each other out by not just running plays to run plays for speed of the game but to give them some looks that might be beneficial to them; we don’t want to waste time.
We will not do more of it because, again, the offenses are different. There are similarities which we can get accomplished in two periods, but we have pretty good scout teams that can give them the correct looks as opposed to a manufactured look just for speed of the game.
On getting the scout team to duplicate the tempo
It is hard. We do our best.
On how Baylor spreads out its receivers
They just make you cover the whole field, which we do a pretty good job of that offensively as well. They make guys cover sideline to sideline, but then stretch them vertically as well. If you want to look at two similarities, we try and make them cover the field sideline to sideline. We don’t line our receivers up out there, but the ball may end up out there a bit. If you are really focused on stretching the field this way, then you need to stretch the field vertically as well. They do a fantastic job of that.
We have got to cover the field sideline to sideline because of their splits, and we have to make sure that they don’t get behind us because they have got great speed and they are going to run the ball. They are a very balanced attack. They are going to run the ball 50 percent of the time, and then they are going to take shots down field. If you are successful one out of three times, that is pretty good.
On the Maryland receivers compared to the Baylor receivers
Baylor is faster. Maryland had two guys that were shiftier. Those two kids were dynamic - No. 1 (Stefon Diggs) and No. 82 (Marcus Leak) - those guys can play anywhere. The two kids that Baylor has are vertically probably better. Maryland did not have a vertical passing game. They sat there and watched the clock go down to one, and then they snapped it and just tried to put it in play. Those two kids, two or three times, just made a whole bunch of people miss. Those two guys can play anywhere, and we have to do a good job of tackling. Baylor is more run the ball and throw as far as you can.
On getting better at tackling
You always want to get better. We are going to work hard on getting better defensively from a whole bunch of angles, and tackling is the first one, just like we are going to get better offensively at finishing blocks on the run game and trying to put the ball in play a little bit more and maybe going vertical a little bit more. There are always things you can do better.
On how the run game’s loss due to Shawne Alston’s injury
It affected us a little bit. We had one back, and if we gave it to him 35 times, then we probably wouldn’t have him this week. You have got to be careful of wearing people out. Maryland did a good job of taking the run away. The 20 times that we handed the ball off, we didn’t get that many yards. We didn’t have the ball very much either. You are only looking at 65 snaps to deal with, and you don’t want to waste half of them for the sake of handing them off to try and establish the run. We did a pretty good job in the pass game, so that is what scored the points. If we were sitting here without 31 points, we wouldn’t be very happy right now. Shawne helps, but again, it is what they are giving us as well. They were blitzing a good bit, they were shooting gaps, they had two linebackers and three defensive linemen who could play anywhere, and those guys will be playing on Sundays. I give them a lot of credit. They played with a bunch of effort, their scheme was good and they played hard. They wanted to win.
On the heat Geno Smith faced in the Maryland game
The heat on Geno was not a result of the running backs. It was a couple of blown assignments up front which were a result of Geno hanging on to the ball a little bit. They were mixing some stuff up, which I am not going to say rattled anybody but made it a little harder. The speed of the game was different, and that is going to help us this week. The speed at which they did things was a little different then what we faced in the first two games, and it was good to see that and it was good to see us be successful against that as well.
Completing 70 percent of your passes, three touchdowns and zero interceptions is a pretty good day. I know we are spoiled around here, but that is a pretty good day against a pretty quality defense. I sat here and told you these guys got six or seven guys that are seniors that have played a whole lot of football that are pretty good. Are we going to face better? Probably. Was it good? Yes. Did we do what we had to do to win? Yes, and I was proud of them for that. Was it average for our standards? Maybe. We will try to get better.
On Maurice Zereoue
I don’t know much about him to be honest with you. I just figured out who he was a week ago. I understand the last name, but he got on the team from the walk-on tryouts, and we stuck him on scout team week one and he did a good job, so we gave him more responsibility week two and he did a good job. We made him scout team player of the week in week three. He has done a good job of preparing our guys, and he has good attitude and he does well. That is about all I know about him right now.
On the turnover ratio margin
Maryland did a good job of creating turnovers. It was one of the things that we talked about. We showed them all their forced fumbles and interceptions, which again, zero turnovers is going to win you games, regardless of what is going on. Baylor has got that mentality. That mentality exists in the Big 12. That is all Mack Brown talked about yesterday was turnover ratio. All they are working on is turnover ratio. That is one reason Joe DeForest is our defensive coordinator because they (Oklahoma State) led the country in forcing turnovers last year. They gave up yards and forced turnovers. We are going to give up yards, but we are going to force turnovers. Baylor has given up a bunch of yards, but they are forcing turnovers. It is ultimately what the score is at the end of the day.
On coaching the offense differently when needing more points
We ran seven plays in the first quarter this last week. It is not because defensively, we were giving up a lot - we ran five plays and punted. That happens. They got the ball for the first five plays and punted. We forced a turnover and then scored. We then held them, they punted, and two plays later we scored again.
We got seven plays, and what they did in their three drives is that they were huddling and getting under the ball and then waiting 30 seconds. How they do that, I don’t know. That is hard to watch. I got impatient, and then they scored a couple of times, and it was 14-14.
You run seven plays in one quarter, and I got impatient. I don’t know if I called the best game on that, but based on the way the game goes, that is how you call the game. If you are down 14 or 21 points, what happens? Offenses get antsy, and they start pressing and trying to make things happen quickly. Don’t say it is the right thing; it is just human nature. So I think we probably have to guard them on that one.
Thoughts on Baylor’s quarterback Nick Florence
He’s a good player and a program player. He has been there in that quarterback room for five years now, and Art does a great job of coaching quarterbacks. He recruited Kase Keenum when I took over, and he had Kevin Kolb who is playing in the NFL. Obviously, he had RG3 (Robert Griffin, III) for a couple of years. He does a great job of developing quarterbacks.
You can talk about that kid (Florence) because he is a program player. Is he talented like some of the other guys out there? He’s not as talented, but he is a winner and runs the ball well. We are going to have to make sure we contain him. He understands his system, he gets them in the right play and he does a good job of completing balls. He takes some chances, and hopefully he takes a few too many that we can capitalize on.
On picking the field goal on fourth down
You always take the points. It all depends on what the game is. If you are down a lot, then you probably should go for it. It just depends on how much you are down and how much time is left. That is all in-game and feel for the game decision.
On the defensive line comparison from the Big East to the Big 12
We faced more good quality defensive linemen last year. Granted, some of that was LSU and Clemson, but you talk about draft picks and there was UConn, Syracuse and Cincinnati. I did not see a single defense that was different from a defensive line standpoint in the two leagues.
From a skill standpoint, I think there is a difference. Everybody is going to have skill and everybody is going to have guys that can run. Tavon Austin plays fast and is a great receiver, and there are guys out there that are just as fast as him. Baylor has got one.
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