MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Dana Holgorsen addresses the media following practice on Sunday, April 8:
We had about a 72-play scrimmage today. Today was the first time we held a true scrimmage. Each of the other eight practices that we have had have been normal practices to where it is drill work and all that. Today, we just basically lined up, and I am not sure when you guys left, but did about four reps of kickoff return, and then we warmed up and rolled the ball out and played some football. We put our guys in a bunch of situations. Offensively, I was happy with how we did on third down, and we have been doing our score zone area for about a week now and have improved on that which defensively, we took a step back at that but that is kind of a part of the process of spring ball as well. Last Tuesday, the offense did pretty well third-down wise and score zone wise and then Thursday, defense did really well on third downs and score zone wise. Typically in spring, whoever gets beat on the last practice, comes back with a little bit more motivation, which is what offensively we did today. Got through and no injuries were reported. We got a lot of snaps where we can line up and look at it and see how it looks. We will study the film tonight and tomorrow and line back up on Tuesday.
On first impressions at today’s scrimmage
The running game offensively was good. Shawne Alston looked as good as I ever seen him. He is hard to tackle. Last spring, we didn’t get anything out of him, camp we didn’t get anything out of him and the first five games of the year, we didn’t get anything out of him. As the season went on, he became more healthy. He looks good.
Andrew Buie runs hard. So we are doing something right up front from a blocking standpoint. Ryan Clarke and Donovan Miles are good from a blocking standpoint but just looking at those two guys run, they ran pretty hard. That is the first thing that stands out and again the situational stuff from things that we need to do to get better offensively on third down situations and score zone looked pretty good.
On competing against each other until the first game in the fall
They are competing. If you don’t have that, then you got problems. But you got guys like Tavon (Austin) and Brodrick (Jenkins) jawing at each other pretty good. There is a lot of that stuff going on. You got guys like (Darwin) Cook and Stedman (Bailey) that are jawing and going at it from an upfront standpoint, (Jeff) Braun is a totally different guy then he was a year ago, and you got him and Jorge Wright getting after it. Watching those guys compete is something that has to exist in order to have any chance of getting better. That exists, and we are happy about that. Again, who wins and who loses isn’t really necessarily the point. Offensively, those guys want to win, but defensively, those guys want to win. It is not a competition. Make yourself better. Make your unit better. Make your team better.
On developing depth
Just progress. You need to keep getting these guys reps. This is the first of three true live scrimmage situations and we will learn a lot more about it once we study the film today but then it is just improvement and you are going to add 25 more guys in the August where we are going to get those guys a bunch of snaps to see who can handle playing at this level right now. It is all about snaps. It is all about reps for the first team, second team, third team guys and seeing who makes progress and who doesn’t.
On scrimmage situations
We practice against each other and have team reps all the time, but there is the moving the ball aspect of things that has to exist from a situational standpoint. You can’t get that if you are just running team period against each other. How will people actually do when they move the ball, and you put them in that situation, it is a little higher intensity, and it was clearly a little bit different out there today than it was in previous team periods.
On the defense in today’s practice
Impressed with it. Again, that is one reason these guys have been hired, because everybody that we play is going to be able to run things quickly. I don’t tempo our guys in a normal team situation, in the scrimmage I do. And so there were times where we were going a lot faster as we would in a real game to where the defensive guys are; they understand that, and they are not complaining about it. All they are doing is understanding this is real life, and this is the way it is going to be so we better figure out ways to get calls in, and we better figure out ways to ignore personnel and line up and be able to communicate. I thought they did a great job of communicating it and getting lined up. They didn’t stop us and tackle us as well as we would like them to, but that will come.
On competition in the scrimmage
Obviously unless it wastes too much time or it gets somebody hurt or carries into the locker room, than you got a problem which none of that exists right now.
You just tell them to quit it and move on. Its good, wholesome, healthy fun is what it is. If that competitive edge doesn’t exist, then you are in trouble. I think we got some guys that have that and have the ability to challenge some people. Tavon (Austin) talks more crap then anybody on our team. I can assure you of that. But, it is all in good fun. With him, it carries into the locker room because it is all in good fun. He is a great teammate.
On Andrew Buie
Just from a consistency standpoint. He is a tough kid. He runs hard, he gets hit hard, he plays hard, he blocks hard, and he takes hits, because he plays so hard. For him to be able to do it for nine straight days has impressed me. I am sure Dustin (Garrison) is watching on the sidelines with some anxiety seeing him get a whole bunch of reps and Shawne (Alston) as well. But as we found out last year, you can’t just go into a season with one running back. You need to have a bunch of them. I am sure Dustin (Garrison) is ready to get to August, where he can go out and get some reps as well.
On connecting offensively today
There better be, or we are not doing our job if there isn’t. We have nine starters back and those guys know what to do. Now it is about improving everything from a consistency standpoint. All nine of them should be better than they were in December. The whole midseason form thing comes from a timing aspect, health aspect and a game plan aspect and all that. These guys individually, everything about them should be better than it was in December. Confidence wise, strength wise, speed wise, familiarity wise and yes, I do think that exists. Again, our objectives offensively are to improve to get better are getting better in situations and developing depths which we are doing slowly and will continue to do it in August.
On Shawne Alston
He is hard to tackle. He plays so hard as well that none of them can be an every down guy, because we ask our backs to do so much, and we play so many backs from a one back set to a two back set to a three back set to where they are all going to take a bunch of snaps. It happened in the bowl game too. Shawne (Alston) was pretty much our every down back in the bowl game spelled by Buie, which is really what we are doing out there right now. Those guys complement each other well, but if those were the only two we had going into a 12 game season, we would be in trouble.
On situational numbers from today’s practice
It was good today, I thought. I don’t have the exact numbers. I know the last practice, the defense won 11 third downs, and we won five. I don’t know what it was today. I would be shocked if it was less than 50 percent, but I don’t have those numbers. From a score zone situation, we scored every time we got down there.
On someone standing out defensively
I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you that. Not until I watch the tape again. I am doing my best to look at all 22 of them but that is pretty hard.
On Donovan Miles
If it means something to them as seniors then they are probably going to give you a little bit more. Last go around, and he takes a lot of the beating off of Ryan (Clarke). If we only had one of them, then Ryan would have a hard time making it through the spring. He is doing a good job of getting in there and taking 50 percent of those reps and just continuing to get better. You got to learn what to do first before you teach them how to get better at it.
On Jordan Thompson
Good. He made a few plays today. I have mentioned this in here before, he is a little bitty dude, but he doesn’t play little. He plays hard, and he caught a couple of screens and he ran a couple of quicks, and he caught a couple of balls. He did well.
On Ivan McCartney
He is still limited. At least he is trying. I questioned that for a few days.
On Karl Joseph
Karl Joseph is probably the one guy out of all the new guys coming in that has got something to him. You can pencil him in to play a good bit. He is mature. He is not scared. He is mature, and he is physical. Sometimes it takes guys a couple of years, before they are physically ready to play or mentally ready to play. Whatever it is. It was an easy adjustment for him. I am not saying he doesn’t make mistakes or misses tackles or any of that, he does, but from a demeanor standpoint, the effort and the maturity and the physical capabilities of being able to handle it, he is the guy that is going to be fine.
On Ford Childress
When he throws it, it goes exactly where you want him to throw it. It goes there, and it looks good, and it is usually extremely accurate. It doesn’t mean his eyes are always where they need to be. There is so much to think about from a communication standpoint. He is slow with it, because he doesn’t have the reps yet, but he is getting better at it. The one thing is that he stands in the pocket, and he throws it and it goes exactly where you want it to go.
On what he want recruits to take away from watching practice today
Just the overall atmosphere as far as how our players act and do they like to be here. That is what we stress upon them. We encourage these recruits to come and see what we have to offer and be around our players as much as they possibly can to feel what I believe in which is these guys want to be here, and they want to work hard. They enjoy each other, the atmosphere, the environment and they enjoy being together and playing football.
On Geno Smith
That is part of just being an experienced guy. He has played a lot of football. Year two in this offense makes our job easier, and he doesn’t need to think too much about what the other 10 guys are doing. He needs to worry about what he is doing first and foremost but from an experience standpoint, the whole coach on the field thing, he knows where everybody is and everybody being on the same page and the timing being good is important.
On pushing practice time back That is part of why we give them Friday and Saturdays off for a lot of guys that want to go home and get away, they can go home and get away. I am all about that. When you are here, you need to work hard, but you also need to understand that we are going to give you time to get away from it. We need to get two more good weeks out of them, because then they are going to get three to four weeks off. May is when college football players have time off. It is not June, it is not July, it is not August, it is not December, its May. We are stressing upon to give us everything for two more weeks. Plus it was a scrimmage which means we are only going to be out there for an hour as opposed to two and a half hours. That allowed us to push it back to. I didn’t want to be out there practicing at eight, nine or ten o’clock at night because they have got study hall stuff going on right now. It just fit the schedule pretty good.
On having players for four years
At Texas Tech we did. I was there for a long time, and we had a bunch of guys coming back that understood, and I think we started four senior quarterbacks in a row which made things easier and better. Year two at Houston with Case (Keenum) was a lot easier but again, the thing that got better wasn’t like the production aspect of things but it was the success of the situations and stuff. We are just trying to become a better, more explosive offense. A get more yards offense, a smarter offense that is good in situations and understands first downs and I feel like that is where we are going.
On interacting with those whose eligibility has expired and are waiting for the draft
I don’t say anything to them. There are aspects that I don’t even understand. I worry about the guys who are going to win us games next year. I see those guys down stairs all the time, and I just chit chat with them, make fun of them or do something and have a laugh and hang out and just see how they are doing and all that stuff. There is enough on our plate to worry about so that is where we are focusing in o