Football: Coach Holgorsen News Conference
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU coach Dana Holgorsen’s weekly news conference.
We were able to evaluate a bunch of guys on film this week, see what they do good and what they need to get better at. Moving forward, we have a big challenge at Maryland this week. I’m looking forward to three good days of practice and working hard to put a good game plan together for all three sides of the ball. They have a very disciplined coach in Coach (Randy) Edsall. He prides himself on winning games. They are smart in what they do from a turnover-margin standpoint. They’re sound in their kicking game and not a very penalized football team. That’s the number one thing we’ve got to take care of. We’ve got to get good at what the game plan is and line it up to try to win the game.
On what Maryland does schematically
I’m familiar with coach Bradford when he was at Oklahoma State and Southern Miss. I’ve got a pretty good handle on what he’s all about and what he likes to do. Offensively, I’m very familiar with Gary Crowton. I know what his history is, where he’s been, what he’s accomplished. He’s got a heck of a resume. He has a great mind. They do good things offensively. What they showed against Miami is a lot of the stuff that we do. They try to get the ball out of their hands quickly. They use the perimeter to utilize space. Special teams-wise, it’s the same as what we saw against UConn last year. They brought their coordinator from UConn, and Randy has a huge grip on it, as well.
On what he’s most satisfied with
Progress. You’re always going one way or the other. If you’re status quo, then you’re going to get beat by somebody. It’s about constant growth. We have a young and inexperienced football team. We need to show constant improvement. The attitude has been good, and the effort has been good. Obviously, we need to get better in a lot of areas. The attitude and the effort has been good, and as long as that continues, we should be able to show improvement.
On how both squads have limited penalties
I haven’t been in coach Edsall’s room to see what they do. We went and looked back at what UConn was all about last year. They average four penalties a game and have a positive turnover ratio. Last week was a prime example of it. They weren’t nearly as penalized as what Miami was. They had one turnover, Miami had four. One was a defensive touchdown which won the game. Like I’ve said in the past, those are the things that get you beat. We haven’t turned the ball over, but we’re also not happy with what we’re doing defensively since we haven’t forced a turnover yet. Last week from a penalty standpoint, it was skewed because our opponent had 200 yards of penalties. We had eight penalties, which was terrible. Four of those were holding calls from backup offensive linemen with technique issues. Two of them were starting offensive guys that also had technique issues. We’ve got to address that. Too many times we put our defense in a bad situation. There’s a couple of things that we’ve got to clean up.
On Maryland’s defense
They look good. You should watch them on tape. They’ve got good-looking kids. They’ve got experience – their two-deep guys are very active and play hard. They give you some problems. They’ve got a ton of experience at linebacker. A couple of those guys get to the ball and run well. They’ve got a corner that took one for the game-winning touchdown last week. They’ve got a little more experience coming back than we do, not a bunch more, but they have the slight advantage in terms of returning starters.
On preparing for Maryland’s turnover-driven defense
It’s something I’ve emphasized since I’ve been here. We’ll work hard on it this week. Just because we haven’t turned the ball over in two weeks doesn’t mean we can relax. It’s part of our everyday coaching efforts. Our style and how we practice is to make sure that we focus on those things.
On how coach Edsall’s running style matches with coach Crowton’s passing style
It’s an interesting dynamic. Watching what they did at UConn, we all know what they did. It’s far from what you’re going to see on Saturday. They will get in a few different tight end sets and pound the ball at you a little bit. Looking at where coach Crowton has been, he’s spent the last few years at LSU. Before then, he was at Louisiana Tech and BYU, where it was nothing but spread and a whole bunch of stuff that we like to do, and what we used to do at Texas Tech. It’s an interesting dynamic.
Offensive football is offensive football. If you match well, it doesn’t matter what scheme you’re in. If you can get good at what you believe in and make sure you don’t turn it over and don’t put yourself in bad situations, limit your penalties, then you’ve got a chance to win.
On facing the first BCS opponent of the year
Without a doubt. They’re obviously a good football team. It’s challenging. They’ve won some games, they’ve got kids that are used to winning and guys that were highly recruited. I saw that Maryland has the 10th-highest number of former players on NFL rosters right now. It’s obviously a place where they have an abundance of talent. We’re looking forward to the challenge. If we want to consider ourselves a Top 20 team, win a national championship or go to a BCS bowl game, then we’ve got to beat teams like this. We’re looking forward to the challenge.
On Maryland’s defensive front
They move around a bunch. Their defensive end is someone you’ve got to keep an eye on. It’s not something that we’re looking to avoid him, because our offense is based on leverage and scheme, not specific people. That’s how it’s always been regardless of how good the player is. He’s clearly a good player. He’s got experience and will more than likely play for a long time. Offensively, we approach it as what we think they’re going to throw at us, not obsessing over who they are. We’ll look for specific matchups at times, but for the majority of situations we’re just looking for what schemes and what plays we should run based on what we feel they’re going to do.
On Maryland’s unique uniforms
They’ve got like 35-40 different uniforms. I saw several different combinations. I’m curious to see what one they come up with. There’s not much I can do about it. I can only worry about the things we can control.
On team injuries
I’ll talk about injuries when guys are out. If they’re not out, then they’re day-to-day. We practice in an hour and we’ll see who’s out there. Obviously, Josh Jenkins is out, Terrell Chestnut is out (surgery on shoulder), but will be back for spring. Other than those two, we have a roster full of people that are day-to-day. Even the healthy guys are day-to-day. They may go cuckoo or something on us. Everyone is day-to-day unless I say they’re out.
On improving the running game
It’s called practice. When you’re dealing with inexperienced people, there’s nothing better than snaps in games and at practice to get better at it. We didn’t decide all of a sudden that we want to be bad at the run game. We also don’t call plays that will get our running backs’ teeth knocked out. I feel that we’ve got coaches that can scheme up some runs. It’s about linemen and inside receivers and backs being targeted correctly and being able to finish blocks. The backs need to hit the holes quickly. The only way to get better is to keep working on it, practice, and get experience.
On gauging the amount of respect the opponent’s defense has for WVU offense
Based on how they line up. Marshall did a nice job of scheming the run and taking away the run. The thing that discouraged me so much in the last game was what they were doing defensively in trying to take away the pass. We didn’t do a very good job of packing and running it. I don’t care if we’re 120th in the country in the run game. If we’re able to run when we need to and not let them dictate what they do, we’re going to be fine.
On the first road game of the year
I’m excited for it. We’ll talk about it all week. You’ve got to play a bunch of road games and put yourself in hostile situations if you’re going to have success. I like road games. The routine is typically the same as a home game, you go to the locker room at the same time, put your stuff on the same way, and you go out there and you play. There have been plenty of road games where we’ve gone out and been outnumbered and come out with a victory. To me, there’s not a big difference.
A lot of schools take their teams to the stadiums to try to develop a comfort level or familiarity level, but the sidelines are always the same and the field is always the same. To me, a field is a field and that’s how they’ve got to approach it.
The hotel stuff is different, but that’s why we have the operations people to take care of all of that. In my mind, I’m going to approach it the same way. I’m going to wake up and do the same thing I do every Saturday.
On the play of Brad Starks
He’s getting better. I didn’t want to talk about him a month ago, but based on the last three weeks of him practicing hard, he’s on track to get better and better. He’s sitting at third team, but if he has a good week of practice, he may go to the second team.
On the range of plays he calls each game
If we put one through five out there, it’s always going to change. We talk about coming out faster. You never know what they’re going to do anyway. I’ve been in charge of offenses that we start really fast, and then we’ll start really slow. If I had a magic formula, we’d always start fast. We’ll work hard at it and talk about it. We’ll keep track of the positive plays. Maybe I didn’t do a good job of calling plays the last few weeks.
On how an opposing defense attacks Holgorsen’s offense
It’s a bit of guesswork and rolling the dice on their part. That’s what I’ve seen. You watch a bunch of film, and you develop tendencies of the defense to try to figure out what they’re going to do. You call plays based on what you think they’re going to do. Sometimes you start a play, and they hit it right in the teeth. It’s discouraging as a coach when it’s a tendency they didn’t previously show. You have to know that people are going to change tendencies. We need to be more alert on the sidelines between plays and between series to figure it all out.
You can’t come up 25 plays and run them consecutively and expect to find success. You have to figure out what they’re doing on both sides of the ball.
On the percentage of his playbook yet to be used
There’s quite a bit. The base is in, but there’s a lot of ways to establish the base. That’s one thing that we try to do offensively. Defensively, we’re the same way. There’s some front and blitzes and twists and stuff we haven’t shown yet, but that’s a progression of football. You can’t go into a game with everything or you’ll blow the kids’ minds. You try to figure out what you can handle. Once you get a feel for it, then you can start to do some more stuff. The more players we have with familiarity of the system, the more variety we’ll see. It’s going to be hard for me to put out a product like the New England Patriots did last night. They threw for 500 yards, but that wasn’t in game two. It was with guys who have been together for eight years. They’ve got guys who have played a lot of football together. That makes a big difference.
On Geno Smith’s progress
He’s getting better. He made some mental mistakes. He’s talented – we all know he’s talented. He’s the leader in the clubhouse. He needs to be able to know what I’m thinking about without having to have me tell him. It takes time and a level of concentration to see what my reactions are to certain things and what my signals are.
On the pivotal nature of the Maryland series
I saw something about that, and I don’t pay much attention to it. This week is 100 percent about Maryland. Based on the outcome of the game, our job is to prepare for the next opponent like we would any other. That’s how we’re going to approach it – I’m not going to veer from that.
On expectations of the offense
I think we have a sense of what’s expected of us. We tell the coaches and players to not read anything the media writes. There’s a reason for that. When we meet as a team, what matters is what we think of ourselves and what our abilities are and become the best team that we can. My expectations are bigger than your expectations. Our players can’t be like that. They need to know what their job is and to get better at it every day.
We’ve scored on 70 percent of our drives, which is really high. We probably won’t maintain that throughout the season. The last three places I’ve been, we never scored on 70 percent of our drives. The expectations are high. I’m guilty of that, as well. Our job as coaches is to make sure that our players understand the expectations and what we’re trying to do.
Dana Holgorsen, WVU, WVU football
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