MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - A transcript of WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen's weekly news conference.
Opening statement I will touch on a couple of things from this past week before we move on to Kansas State. I am not happy with how we played on all three sides of the ball. We didn’t execute very well, we didn’t coach very well and we didn’t play with very much effort. What was disappointing was that it looked like none of us handled the situation as well as we could have. One thing that I tell the team all the time is that we are all in this together – coaches and players. Anything that I say in reference to a player, I am making reference to coaching as well. We didn’t handle the situation well. You can spin it a lot of different ways if you want to, but bottom line is we didn’t get the job done.
We came back on Sunday and watched a whole lot of tape. There were not a whole lot of positive things said, and we need to change the mindset of our football team right now. We are a good football team, and we haven’t had to deal with this in a long time. It has been almost a year since we’ve had to deal with this, and we have won a lot of games in the meantime. Our job as coaches is to get back to what made us win in all those games. That is working hard, playing with a tremendous amount of effort and being disciplined, being smart, playing hard, playing fast and playing physical. We have our hands full with that this week.
On Kansas State We have Kansas State coming to town, who is a top-5 team and who is playing really well together on all three sides of the ball. They are probably the most disciplined team I have seen in a long time on all three sides of the ball. They are extremely disciplined. They don’t make mistakes on any side of the ball. They play with tremendous effort, and they play extremely physical football. They have a lot of experience. They are as smart of a football team as I have seen in some time. We pride ourselves on that as well. They are only getting penalized three times a game, and they are probably top 5 or 6 in the country when it comes turnover margin. Not turning the ball over and then creating turnovers on defense is something that they obviously stress.
Offensively, it starts with their quarterback. Collin Klein is a tremendous football player. You watch him on tape, and you have to stop the run because between him and their running back, John Hubert, they rush for 200 some yards a game. We will work hard on trying to stop the run, and we want to make them pass. You look at them throwing the ball, and it doesn’t look very good, but it goes exactly where you want it to go. They have big-play potential outside, and they have some receivers that can really run. You spend so much time on stopping the run that they have guys that make plays on the outside and they do a great job on third downs.
They stay out there, and it is going to be like it was against Maryland. They are going to huddle, they are going to sub, they are going to get their personnel groups in, they are going to go to the line of scrimmage, they are going to try and draw you off sides, they are going to make sure that they are in the right play and they are going to play ball. We are going to have to do a good job of being patient and making sure that we take advantage of our opportunities.
They have a solid kicking game. They block well, and they tackle well. They have two return guys in Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett that are as good as anyone in the country. Both punt and kick returns, they are averaging a ton. Their kickers are nearly perfect, averaging 40 yards a punt, and they are almost perfect when it comes to field goals and extra points.
Defensively, they are really solid. Much of the same guys are there from last year. They are great against the run. Arthur Brown is a special football player and is as good as I have ever seen at linebacker from an effort standpoint, a playmaking standpoint and a physicality standpoint. They don’t have many holes in their secondary. There is not going to be a whole bunch of space to get a ball in there, and we have to do a good job of blocking up front and fitting the ball into tight spaces. They don’t miss any tackles, and they play with great effort. A tremendous football team is coming in, and we are going to have to improve on all three sides of the ball to compete.
On Kansas State being a better matchup for the defense I hope so and they could be. They pose a lot of challenges. They are only snapping the ball 63 times a game, but they are averaging 40 points a game. They have big-play potential. They do it in a different way, and it is a little bit more like Texas. Even Texas spreads it and moves, but different then Baylor and Texas Tech. They were tempo teams that spread you out and move the ball all over the field. This is a different challenge. With any team, there are challenges and this one just happens to be with stopping the run. Then when they are going to throw the ball, (we need to be) making plays down field. We haven’t done a very good job of making plays down field, and that is a little bit of an understatement. We will continue to preach what we do. We know what we are going to face. Schemes are never going to be a problem. There are no secrets. You have film, and you know what they are doing. You prepare your kids each and every week to prepare against it and stop it, and then you get those guys out there and they have to make plays. As coaches, we have to make adjustments and coach those guys into being able to make the plays.
On the challenges the spread option presents to the team You have your keys, you have your responsibilities, you have to look at it and you have to develop some tendencies that help you defend it. Regardless of what people are doing offensively, we are going to coach our guys depending on what their assignment is when it comes to matching up with the sets and being able to execute with good technique. We lost a whole lot of stuff technique wise on both sides of the ball last week because our mind was all screwed up. We lost sight of what is important, which is understanding exactly what your assignment is, what to do and do it without hesitation when it comes to trusting your technique and triggering it. We didn’t do a very good job of that.
On the team’s mindset not being set yet this season It is a problem, but for every football team that exists out there, it happens at some point and you have to fix it. I mean, it could happen in a bowl game. I am talking about 18 to 22 year old kids here. Who knows what their mindset is. I take full responsibility for it. It is our job as coaches to figure out where we want it to be and change it and fix it. We failed last week.
On who is playing Collin Klein on the scout team Nobody has one. There is only one of him that exists. We wanted (freshman wide receiver) Will Johnson to do it because he is 6-foot-5 and long, but he has a back problem from last week so he is not going to be able to do it. We have a couple of guys that are back there that will go in the right direction. It won’t look like it, and that’s a problem. But that is a problem that exists, and we have to overcome that. If you can find a 6-foot-5 guy that is big, strong and fast, he is probably not going to be on scout team.
On defending Collin Klein when he runs (It is) tough. He is averaging 100 yards a game and doesn’t make any mistakes. We try and junk up the box and stop the run and put more people in there, but then you are weak on the outside. He throws it to those fast guys outside, and we have to make plays out there.
On how the team comes back from a loss for the first time in almost a year It is embarrassing. The guys were embarrassed, they were hurt and disappointed. It is not fun for anybody. We got in here (on Sunday), and I didn’t sugar coat anything. It wasn’t a positive session and it wasn’t a ‘It is okay guys. It is going to be okay. Don’t worry about it’ session. That is not what we did. Our job is to coach them and tell them what reality is. I told them what reality is prior to going out there, and we didn’t reach them. Again, that is my fault for not reaching them. I had a lot of guys that wanted it to be easy because we just went through two hard games against Baylor and Texas. We won close games and a couple of shootouts and had a whole bunch of people on that airplane that wanted it to be easy. That is not reality in the Big 12. It is not reality in college football. We were honest with them, and there was not a whole bunch of positive stuff being said. The sense of urgency and attention in meetings was there, and we got out there in practice on Sunday night and flew around; there is an understanding that it was important to them. I was happy with the way that went. Hopefully in about an hour, when we get in here for a team meeting, the sense of urgency is high and the tension is high and we will get out there and play with tremendous effort in practice. If not, it is not going to be pretty.
On the team being over confident or cocky before the Texas Tech game If I had those answers, I would have fixed it before. It is a challenging game. We are all spoiled with as much as we want around here and we don’t like the loss, but we are not going to get used to it; I can assure you of that. With that said, there are a whole bunch of people out there doing the same things we are. There are nine other teams in the Big 12 that are all used to winning and all have really good facilities, and it is going to be challenging each and every week. My message going to the team last week was to accept the grind because it is reality. Texas Tech has been to bowl games 19 out of the last 20 years. It is a good program with good facilities and was a good football team. We watched them on tape and said ‘Look, these guys are pretty dang good. You better get ready to play.’ We didn’t have enough guys that bought into that. That was 100 percent my fault and my responsibility to make sure that they did that, and they didn’t.
On what Texas Tech did defensively to stop WVU They played good, sound defense and they did the same stuff that they did on tape. You don’t trick anybody. There are too many good coaches out there, there are too many good schemes out there, there is too much film and there is too much material. Nobody is tricking anybody. It gets right down to being prepared for the looks, which we were, and then having the proper mindset to get out there and be mentally tough enough to overcome adversity. On that particular day, we weren’t.
On why the offense varies between each team, yet both are successful Do I think there are schemes out there that are better than others? Yes, because that is what we are doing. Does that mean in reality, our scheme is better than somebody else’s scheme? No. You have to believe in something and commit to something and you have to do it. The people who are not successful are the people that try to semi-commit to one scheme and semi-commit to another scheme and kind of mold everything together. That doesn’t typically work. When you believe in something, you just stick to it and do it, and you typically get pretty good at it. Then it is about getting players that fit it, getting players that understand it, getting players that get in position to make plays and they do. There is a whole bunch of stuff that goes into winning a football game other then what the scheme is. To me, the scheme is very little to do with it. It is about a whole lot of other things that go into that.
On Travares Copeland He played. He will start this week. You guys can go ahead and write that down. He has been getting better and better every week. We got him in the game because we didn’t like what we were looking at, so we made the decision to play him and put him in. We almost made the decision to put Devonte Robinson in there, and I probably wish I would have. One thing about motivation is that I would think that motivation is indicative of playing time. If you like your current situation, you better do what you have to do to make sure that you keep that current situation, or that situation is going to change. If anybody thinks that he is comfortable in his situation, then he is not doing what he has to do to get extremely good at it, and then he is sadly mistaken.
On Injury Updates Brodrick Jenkins is out this week. He has got a slight cartilage tear. He will be back, and he is out this week. The rest of them are pretty much day to day. We will look at them and see what they are like out there today.
On which position Copeland will start at We will find a spot. It depends on how the receivers do. One of them is not going to start. I say that, but if Travares goes out there and doesn’t play well this week, then we start somebody else. We made the decision to play him and put him in the game, so we are obviously going to proceed and use him. I don’t know if he is going to be the Savior. It is not like our offense is that broke. We have been okay this year. It is all about competition. Stedman (Bailey) goes down and doesn’t play in the second half - who steps up? We tried some people, and that is the one we settled on. Based on that, it will be him. Hopefully, Stedman is back.
On what makes Copeland special In hindsight, I wish we would have forced the envelope on him a little bit earlier. In camp, we tried, but he just didn’t pick up on it. The more he played and the more he was here, the better he has gotten, so we are going to play him. If there are any other freshmen that step up this week, then we are going to play them. I have said it from the very beginning - I don’t care who you are, you are going to play. I don’t know what this puts our freshmen total at, but it is a lot higher than it has been around here.
On Jeff Braun’s injury Twisted ankle. If he is out, either Pat Eger or Nick Kindler will step in. Again, that will be indicative of how they practice this week.
On Will Clarke’s injury We will see how it goes today. All this injury stuff, I will tell you when they are out. I told you Brodrick was out; the rest of them, we will see how they do today and tomorrow.
On Shawne Alston’s injury He is day to day. It is frustrating, but what can you do. You want me to cry about it? We will put the other running backs in and try and get them better. Dustin (Garrison) - we played him more last week then we had and he looked a little bit better. We will keep playing them. I can’t do anything about it. I can’t put them on waivers and bring somebody else in here. We coach what we have and that is how we have always approached it. We are not going to use it as an excuse, we are going to line them up and coach them and try and get their mindset right. We are going to lineup and try and beat a top-5 team.
On Dustin Garrison’s increased role It looks like he has handled it fine. He is not where he was last year, but he continues to get better.
On a combo of three freshmen in Will Clarke’s role They don’t know how to play hard yet. They are trying and slowly coming along, but they are not ready to be difference makers. They need to listen as far as what we are coaching them to do. They are all good kids, but we are not interested in putting just good kids out there. We are interested in putting nasty guys that get after people’s tails and make plays and are disruptive. They didn’t do that. We had four freshmen on the D-line that were there and need to continue to get better. We have to keep coaching them and continue to get better. It is not a situation that is ideal, but what are we going to do about it.