MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia Football Coach Dana Holgorsen addresses the media following practice No. 4 on Monday, Aug. 6.
Opening statements We’re four practices in, so the simplest way to put it is that we get 25 more. We have 25 more, and we’re going to have to use every one of them to get ready to play the first game. We’re making progress, and the attitude is good. I like what I see out there as far as the energy standpoint. The biggest difference between this year and last year is it seems like we have more bodies out there. We have about 40 freshmen that are all taking a bunch of reps, which is fun. We’re repping about three deep at every position, sometimes four deep. We have a long ways to go, but we’re going to have the ability to take a whole bunch of reps. We’re running more team plays than we did last year, we’re running more skill plays than we did last year, more inside plays than we did last year, because we can, because we have more bodies. The more we’re repping these guys and the more we can evaluate the more we can figure out what the starting lineup will be.
On what determines whether a freshman will play It’s tricky. You don’t want what happened to Ivan (McCartney) two years ago to happen, where if he’s not in the two deep or not able to play some special teams, you redshirt him. You can always play him three or four games into the season, which I wouldn’t have any problem doing if he can help the team, but we won’t even talk to them about this until three weeks into it. We’ll see where they’re at, and if we feel they can be a contributor then we’ll play them. I’ve been saying for a year that I’d like to play a lot of freshmen, and I think we should’ve played more freshmen last year, but if they can help they’re going to play.
On the injuries, specifically Jewone Snow He’s in a red jersey, and we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow. Keep in mind what the injury policy is. I’m not going to sit here and talk much about it. If the guy’s done, then I’ll be the first to tell you. Other than that just assume they are day-to-day.
On what he likes through the first four days I like their mentality right now. We’re trying to develop some leaders just like everybody across the country. We probably have a few more on offense than we do on defense, but the defense is playing like they have a chip on their shoulder and to me they’re flying around and playing hard. The longer we’re out there, and the more we play, the more we’ll be able to develop some guys. There are so many snaps left that there are going to be a lot of things that transpire.
On the difference in special teams It’s the same schedule. Right now we’re repping three deep, because we have more bodies, but that’s going to have to change. It’s hard to rep three deep, but when you have this many new guys and different people involved. There will be times when I’m calling plays offensively, and I don’t even watch what happens offensively, I’m just watching specific people, and where they need to fit on specific special teams. With all the new guys, not only are we repping three deep on offense and defense, we’re in the back our minds saying where can that guy help us on special teams. The plan is the same, we’re going to take the same amount of meeting time and same amount of practice time. The tricky part is evaluating all of the bodies to make sure we have the right people in the right spots.
On whether fights are good or bad to see We’re not fighting, because we hate each other. We’re fighting because the aggressive nature of what these kids are like. We had more fights than I would’ve liked today, but there are people across the country that would like to trade places with me, because they can’t get there guys to fight. I’ve been in that situation before. That’s just intensity and competing. If it starts hurting the drill, that’s when I say something about it. If it’s a quick little fight, and they’re tugging on each other, it’s not a big deal. It happened later on in practice where it disrupted the drill so I had to get involved, calm everyone down, and try to make a few throw up and continue the drill.
On what impresses him about the young guys There are a couple of them that are picking things up quicker than others; obviously it’s hard for the offensive line. Tyler Orlosky and (Adam) Pankey are running second string, I’ve never had two freshman run second string. That can change if they start getting overloaded or maybe some other guys pick things up. The physical nature of these guys is pretty good from a freshman standpoint. A lot of it has to do with the NCAA allowing us to get guys in early and let them work out with the team for two months. That’s obviously beneficial, so physically I’m happy with what we’re seeing.
On how many guys are ideal to rep Three deep right now is fine, because we have a lot of time. We’re just trying to play as many snaps and reps as we can get through to evaluate it. It’ll get to a point through where the closer you get to the game you have to start narrowing down on who you’re going to count on. We’re just trying to evaluate everybody and figure out where they’re at. We’ll start doing scout teams and prep teams and then figure out who goes with scouts. We have a lot to do between now and then.
On the difference of the defense in the Big 12 I don’t know how much different we have to be, football is still football. We played some pretty good teams last year and every year is different. What we saw out of Baylor last year, I don’t know if we’ll see that in Baylor this year. Every team is different, and that’s why you prepare for a game. You get a week to figure out what they have, who they’re playing, if they’re faster, if they’re slower, if they’re running the ball and what sets they’re doing. You practice it and then you line up and play. My experience is we are going to play more snaps, so we have to play more people. We are preparing ourselves for that.
On the offenses airing out cornerbacks in Big 12 We did that at Texas Tech a lot, now whether that was (Mike) Leach being stubborn, daring and risky. You see that a lot. You’ll see fastballs, you’ll see deep balls, it’s different. Nothing surprises me, because I was there for a long time, but definitely different than huddling and being slow, which is what has occurred around for a while.
On Geno Smith gaining weight and if it has helped He’s moving around better, his leadership skills are better, his communication is better, his arm strength is better and his body looks better. He’s better.
On if Geno being stronger opens the playbook Geno is not going to be the one to win us a bunch of games. It’s going to be him and the 10 guys around him. Our offense is always going to explore other options to move the ball and get first downs. It’s not going to look a whole different than it did in the past.
On which young receivers have stepped up No, except for Squirt (Jordan Thompson). That guy is something. He’ll play obviously as a true freshman. (Devonte) Robinson, (Devonte) Mathis, Will Johnson and Travares (Copeland) are repping quite a bit. If there is a place for them I wouldn’t be opposed to playing all five of them. K.J. Myers has looked better than he did in the spring, and Dante Campbell has looked better than he did in the spring. We have bodies, and I’m glad they’re all here.