MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Dana Holgorsen says he hopes to have injured players Josh Jenkins and Brad Starks back in time for fall camp, which starts Aug. 4.
“They’re not on crutches or anything – they’re working – but their percentage is somewhere around 75 percent, probably,” Holgorsen said last Friday. “How they can do isn’t going to be before they got hurt, which is due to the fact that they aren’t able to be 100 percent between now and August 4th, but the good news is we don’t play August 4th, we play September 4th.
“We’ll get those guys in and we’ll evaluate where they’re at,” Holgorsen added. “If they’re fine they start and if they are not fine then they won’t start. That is how you’ve got to approach it.”
Holgorsen also touched on the pre-camp two-deep released last week. He said he hopes it serves as motivation for some of the players.
“It would be for me, and a lot of the good ones I’ve coached through the years it would be motivation for them too,” Holgorsen said. “Hopefully guys that see that they’re second or third, it would motivate them.”
However, Holgorsen cautions that his opinion now doesn’t really matter - it’s what he thinks after the Marshall game is what really counts.
“We’re adding 20 new guys and that changes your team a lot,” he noted. “There are some weak areas and we all know what they are. We’ve got some issues on the D-line; we’ve got some issues from a depth standpoint at safety.
“We don’t have a big-time playmaker at wide receiver, which we probably will have by the end of camp,” he said. “We’ve got young, inexperienced guys at running back. We’ve got a young backup quarterback. We’ve got guys on the O-line that did not play much spring ball. There are issues, but you just keep moving forward and you try to get them better every day and then you add new people and you practice 29 times in camp and you try to get all of that sorted out.”
Speaking of sorting things out, Holgorsen said he is still trying to get a handle on Jorge Wright’s situation. Wright was suspended earlier this spring for violating team rules.
“The first thing is we’ve got to figure out where he is at academically,” Holgorsen said. “Then we will meet with the specific people that know stuff that we need to know and then we will evaluate it and then we will make a decision when it comes time to make a decision. I don’t know enough to comment, and in all fairness to the kid, we’ve got to gather all of the facts first and then try to figure it out.”
More odds and ends from Holgorsen’s half hour meeting with the media …
On getting into a rhythm as a play caller … “I’ve been disrupted by having someone having the authority to call timeout,” Holgorsen explained. “Say we’ve got two plays and we get six yards on third and seven and we punt anyway. I would kid Coach (Kevin) Sumlin about it all the time as far as he disrupted me more than he didn’t disrupt me, which I’m joking, but when you’re on offense and you’re calling it it’s easy because you know how the flow of the game is. You know if you can make it.”
What will be different for Holgorsen is paying attention to what the defense is doing when the offense is on the sidelines.
“It goes back to I’ve hired some really good coaches that can do what I did, which was turn around and look the guys in the eye,” he said. “The game would be going on here and I’d be coaching my kids back this way. I’d force myself to sit there and do that and now I’m going to have to pull myself away from that some and understand what’s going on when our defense is out there on the field.”
Holgorsen said he will have offensive coaches Daron Roberts, Robert Gillespie and Bill Bedenbaugh on the sidelines with him and Shannon Dawson and Jake Spavital up in the booth.
“I was upstairs with Mike (Leach) and Jake and Shannon will be upstairs doing the job for me that I did for Coach Leach for eight years, and Kliff Kingsbury did for me at Houston for two years,” Holgorsen said. “Those guys got with Kliff and got with me to see how it’s going to be.
“For eight years I’d be the guy that would be in charge of a lot of the situational stuff – ‘Mike you’ve got to punt.’ ‘I don’t want to punt.’ ‘You’ve got to punt.’ ‘But I don’t want to punt.’ Then all of a sudden you’ve got to call a play because it’s too late to get the punt team in there.
“Or, if I know we can make the field goal on the 30 and we get it down to the 30 and it’s fourth and one, I’d say, “Mike you’ve got to kick the field goal.’ I did a lot of that stuff for him and I’m going to be relying on Shannon and Jake to do a lot of that stuff as well, from an offensive perspective.”
On his vision for Milan Puskar Stadium … “If you are staying the same you’re getting passed up,” Holgorsen said. “If we want to position ourselves when conference realignment does happen, if we want to continue to position ourselves as an elite school in the Big East, then we need to keep improving. It’s just a reality. It’s a fact of life.”
Holgorsen referenced his time spent at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State as an example of what can happen when facilities are improved.
“I spent 12 years in the Southwest, which is primarily the Big 12 South, and I’m going to throw TCU into this because I know exactly what they’ve got, and they are always improving,” Holgorsen said. “Every year they have improved.
“My first year at Texas Tech in 2000 it wasn’t as good as this and a couple hundred million dollars later it’s a pretty good situation,” he explained. “Oklahoma State was the same way. I went to Stillwater, Oklahoma, and saw a specific facility and $500 million later it’s a little different situation. TCU is coming into the Big East and TCU has done their best to keep up with what’s happening in the Southwest, and if we want to get into Texas and recruit kids that’s what you’re dealing with.”
Some of the improvements Holgorsen have already suggested are minor in nature.
“We fixed a few of it,” he said. “Just update things from couches to TVs to computers – just little things that don’t take a whole bunch of money, but from a practical standpoint we can get that stuff fixed relatively quickly and we’re making progress on that.
“The big picture is a whole other story. That takes some vision and some long-term goals, which is partially my job but more importantly, and more realistically, it’s our athletic director’s job, who has a vision and who understands how things out there work outside of West Virginia and the Big East.”
On hiring a recruiting coordinator ... “I want him to be an in-house guy,” Holgorsen said. “Everybody does it differently and there are a lot of ways of doing things successfully. My view on a recruiting coordinator is a guy who is in-house who can organize and run recruiting weekends.
“If you’ve got a kid on an unofficial recruiting visit, it may be during spring practice where all of the coaches are working and in meetings, there needs to be one guy who understands how to treat a kid when he comes on your campus. I’m still trying to figure out who that in-house guy is.”
On his philosophy of throwing the football … “I don’t go into any game saying I want to throw it 75 times,” he said. “If you are looking at it like Geno (Smith) is throwing it 40 times and Case (Keenum) throws it 70 – it’s only 30 throws. And then you rest and a couple of days later you practice and it’s the same amount of throws. Two weeks later, you might throw it 30 more times in a game. We didn’t throw that much at Oklahoma State.
“I think each team takes on the personality of their own and you don’t know exactly what you’re good at until you get out there and do it,” he said. “If this is a team that we need to run it 50 percent of the time to win, or we need to throw it 78 percent of the time to win, then that’s what we expect to do and we will have the capabilities of being able to do that.”
Follow John Antonik on Twitter: @JohnAntonik
West Virginia University Mountaineers, Dana Holgorsen, Geno Smith, NCAA college football
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