MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - A transcript of WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen's spring football news conference:
Opening statement Welcome everybody to the 2013 spring football luncheon. I am glad to have you all here. The guys have been back here for about eight weeks. I think we had about eight weeks of an offseason. This is kind of phase one in the 2013 season. When you look at it, there are about five phases that these guys have to go through. Phase one is an eight week offseason which is very vigorous and these guys have been doing a good job with Mike Joseph and his staff, Darl Bauer, Kevin McCadam and Irele Oderinde (Oderinde) is the new guy on the strength staff, and we are glad to have him come in from over there in Kentucky. Chad Snodgrass is our graduate assistant, and those guys are doing a great job in getting after them. I think our players are extremely motivated at this point. Obviously, ending the season the way we ended and losing a lot of star power, we have a bunch of hungry kids that want to prove themselves.
I also want to mention that they are doing a great job in academics. You can see a bunch of them through the window in there. Some of which are some graduating seniors, but Curtis Jones and his staff are doing a great job. We are going to stay on them as far as finishing the year strong, but making strides when it comes to the academic portion of our program. Assistant-coach wise, we have been spending a lot of time with our guys. We didn’t take much time off after signing day. We got right after it and started getting to know these guys a bunch - spending a lot of time with them on and off the field. Especially the new guys, but also individually just seeing what makes these guys tick. Not only teaching them the schemes and philosophies offensively and defensively, but also just trying to get to know a lot about these guys as people. When you get up there in the weight room in the offseason conditioning, whether it be early morning stuff or afternoon stuff, you find out a lot about guys. Guys change, too. We played so many young guys last year that those guys are going to be different people this year. We are excited about getting up there and spending a lot of time with these guys and seeing what is going on, but more importantly, we are looking forward to phase two in 2013 which is the actual spring portion of the football-aspect of things.
The next five weeks we spend with these guys is going to be all about football. We get to spend 20 hours a week with them opposed to eight hours a week. The majority of it will be football. The first eight weeks, it has been play development more than anything. We are looking forward to doing the football aspect of things.
Injury report Dante Campbell will be out for spring. He had successful shoulder surgery and will be back more June/July. He will be out for spring. Terrell Chestnut, in the bowl game in the second play of the game tore his knee up. He had successful knee surgery and will be out for spring and will be back more June/July.
One of the guys that will be non-contact but will be going through spring will be Avery Williams. He missed last year with neck surgery. He is improving and running and looks really good running. He will be non-contact all through spring but will be able to do a lot of drills and will be back into the swing of things. Jewone Snow really didn’t play that much last year and had another shoulder surgery. He will be going through practice, but non-contact. Pat Eger is improving. He had a little ankle thing that after the season, he had a quick little surgery on. He is not full-go, but he is improving and will be out there at some point. Wes Tonkery has a foot thing as well. He is improving from it but won’t be full speed. Those six guys we are kind of going to be without - two of them for spring, two of them on a limited basis and two on a day-to-day basis.
Defense Defensively, coach (Keith) Patterson is continuing to get a scheme put in place. He got a head start on it heading into the bowl game. Obviously, we didn’t get near what we wanted to get into it, but still got a lot out of this regardless of how the game ended up. We still got a lot out of that from a defensive standpoint as far as getting ahead for the spring. But got the coaches in place and got the scheme in place, and we are continuously meeting with these guys to put the scheme in place and put the philosophy in place. We are excited to see these guys improve.
I know a lot of you all were asking for depth charts and stuff and last year, and I reluctantly gave you one because it changed tremendously. It is the same thing with this. These depth charts really don’t exist. We have open competition at every single position. Just looking at the guys right now from a defensive line standpoint, coach (Erik) Slaughter pretty much has every guy back. Will Clarke and Shaq Rowell are two seniors that we are going to lean on from a leadership standpoint to do a lot of things for us. They are having great off-seasons and are working hard, and their attitudes are great. Then we have a bunch of young guys. A lot of those young guys had to play last year, which if you are playing five or six freshmen on the defensive line, that is not going to be advantageous to your football team. The good news is, those guys are all going to be back - guys like Korey Harris, Christian Brown, Kyle Rose and Eric Kinsey. Those guys are going to be guys we want to see improve throughout spring.
Inside linebacker, having a guy like Isaiah Bruce back, he was the second leading tackler as a freshman last year. He, right now, looks a lot different to me from a confidence standpoint and from a physical standpoint. He is almost 230 pounds now and has a great attitude and is a great person. We are going to lean on him a lot. Nick Kwiatkoski is a guy that has really come on strong in the offseason. He looks good and also weighs about 230 pounds. Those two guys are still young, and they are still sophomores. They have a lot of football ahead of them, and we are going to lean on those guys to continue to get better and better. Both safeties – Karl Joseph and Darwin Cook - look great. Those guys have played a lot of football around here and are having good off-seasons. We are going to lean on them as far as bringing the rest of these secondary guys along.
The corner position was obviously one that we talked a lot about. Coach (Brian) Mitchell is in here to continue to teach these guys from a developmental process. We played four or five freshmen corners. Those guys have to grow up. Those guys have to play. Ishmael Banks is doing a good job. Brodrick Jenkins had been banged up. Brodrick has played a lot of football around here and has been banged up, but we will get him back out there today. The young guys (Ricky) Rumph, Vernon Davis and Nana (Kyeremeh) - those guys just have to keep improving. We have to get those guys to continue to just improve, which is obviously the point of spring practice.
Offense Offensively, coach (Shannon) Dawson and myself have been studying the cutups of what we saw and what we need to improve on. We are pretty much critiquing every aspect of what we do offensively - what we feel like we need to get better at and what direction we need to go based on what our production is. We obviously lost a lot of production that we have to replace, which is just the nature of college football. You are going to lose good players, and it is going to be good for your program to see young guys like Geno (Smith), Tavon (Austin), Stedman (Bailey) and Joey (Madsen) move onto the NFL – that is going to be positive for our program. By no means will we panic whatsoever. We need to get guys in here and we need to coach those guys up.
Probably the strength of where we are at right now is the running back position. That is where all our production is returning. You have Dustin (Garrison) and (Andrew) Buie who have played a lot of football. You are adding Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood that are looking fantastic in the offseason. Cody Clay is another guy that will line up back there that will do some good things. I feel good about that position as far as what those guys are doing, and we are going to lean on them for some leadership stuff.
Offensive line wise, we have about 13 guys for coach (Ron) Crook to toughen up and teach them a bunch of technique and get those guys to grow up as well, especially on the inside. We have our tackles. We feel good about Quinton Spain, and he looks like a totally different person in the offseason. After eight weeks, that guys is big, fast and strong, and he is doing a great job from a leadership standpoint. We are excited about the things that he is doing out there. Nick Kindler is one of the guys that is one of the better leaders on the team. He is doing a good job. We have Curtis Feigt who has played a lot of football here. So the tackle position, we feel good about. We have to get guys on the inside that can grow up. We are going to move Pat Eger inside. Pat has played a lot of ball here, but we are going to give him a shot to be a potential center. Potentially, Tyler Orlosky is going to be a guy that can potentially play center. We have about four bodies – Tony Matteo, Russell Haughton-James and guys in there that we can get one or two centers out of that group right there. Mark Glowinski redshirted last year and is a workout phenom. He is a guy that can bend and is strong and that has a great first step. We are excited about him. Young guys like Adam Pankey and Marquis Lucas - we will line those guys up and go.
Quarterbacks and receivers are probably a little different story, in that they just haven’t played. That is exciting to me as a coach. Coach (Lonnie) Galloway has been in here with these receivers trying to motivate those guys to get better and better, which he will do. We have KJ Myers and Devonte Mathis, and they haven’t played very much. Connor Arlia hasn’t played very much. Jordan Thompson hasn’t played very much. A couple of new guys in Daikiel Shorts and Kevin White are physically unbelievable. Now, if they can run routes and hold up to the actual grind of football – that is what we are here to find out.
I would assume everybody would like to know about the quarterback position. I am more anxious than you are. As this thing goes on, we will discuss it. We’ve got a lot of practices ahead of us. We won’t name a starter for awhile. We have three or four guys there – Paul Millard, Ford Childress and Chavas Rawlins, who is doing a great job in the offseason. He has got some talent to him. Logan Moore from Fairmont is doing some good things in the offseason. We will give those guys a bunch of different reps and kind of see where we end up.
Special teams Special teams wise, just a couple of notes on that. Coach (Joe) DeForest has done a good job of improving the stuff. We will do a lot of technique stuff in the offseason from a blocking and tackling standpoint. Special teams has so many different moving parts. We are going to add 20 more bodies this summer so we have to develop our depth charts. We will do our best this spring to develop that, but it is not just about the kicker, punter, snapper and returner. It is about 50 other guys that need to learn how to take care of some technique stuff when it comes to special teams, and the importance of being good in space. We will hit the ground running with that when it comes to the first practice in spring from a special teams standpoint. We will improve (John) DePalma. He looks like a whole different guy. He just needed to mature. He is doing a good job. Michael Molinari is one of our workout sensations, so he is motivated to try and win the punter duty. We got bodies that are going to get a lot of individual attention from coach DeForest. We will see where we end up with that. We obviously need returners. Everyone that has returned for us over the last couple of years is gone, so we will try and develop a couple of those guys in the spring, and then we have some guys coming in that are obviously going to get a chance to do that as well.
On the three quarterbacks I really don’t know yet. Paul has more experience. He probably understands the offense a little bit better than the other guys but that doesn’t mean that we are going to give him more reps because it is not where they are at right now, it is where they end up in six months. Ford is very motivated at this point right now. It is hard to be a redshirt-freshman quarterback, so he wasn’t nearly as motivated a year ago as he is right now; he is doing good. Chavas is where both those kids were a year ago and two years ago just being new and trying to soak it all in, learning things and hearing things for the first time. I haven’t seen him take a snap yet in college so we are going to have a lot of opportunities to evaluate these guys. Coach Dawson will drill them every day and get them out there for 20, 30 or 40 minutes and just drill them. They need a lot of drill work and a lot of team snaps - they need a lot of skill reps, they need a lot of inside reps and to just to get comfortable with the offense. Again, we will evaluate them, but they are going to show so much improvement and we will see whichever guy shows the most improvements and puts us in the best position to be successful. (Then), we will actually make that decision.
On having a quarterback depth chart by the end of spring No. More than likely not unless someone completely separates himself. This is the first quarterback competition that I have had personally since my first year at Houston. Coming here, we obviously had our starter in Geno and at Oklahoma State, we had our starter in (Brandon) Weeden. Going to Houston, (Case) Keenum obviously wasn’t our starter and we had a competition there where we went 15 practices in the spring and 15 practices in fall before we made that decision. Once spring is over, a lot can happen over the summer. You have lots of tape to sit there and watch. You have 15 more practices that you can look forward to, so I would hesitate to do that.
On position changes You are always going to move those guys (the offensive line) around and try to get your best five on the field. Glowinski was a tackle, but we need help on the inside. We have our top three tackles back so moving him down to guard makes sense to us. We are moving Pat down to center because he is smart, experienced and he has played guard and he has got a lot experience. He has more experience than anyone on our offensive line. We are going to try and get him going there. We always know that we can move him back to guard or tackle if we need to. The center is pretty important to us at this point. We are going to do our best to find the best one that there is and once we do, we can move some of those other guys around. Other than that, there are not many. It is always kind of a constant of switching a guy back and forth. Whether it is inside linebacker, outside linebacker, defensive end, safety or corner, there is constant move based on maturity.
On the coaching changes It hasn’t affected us one bit. Defensively, we had our staff set right there around the (coaches’) convention, so those guys have been meeting for seven weeks. We feel like we are in great shape there. Offensively, I don’t know if you guys know this or not, but we have run the same offense for awhile. Coach Dawson and I are continuously looking at it to see what we have to do to be better, but from a coaching change standpoint, it’s nothing to worry about.
On hiring a new coach to replace coach Gillespie I would imagine we will probably find a coach.
On the familiarity of the Big 12 going into the second season I think it helps a bunch. That has been one of the vocal points the past eight weeks. We have constantly emphasized that. Going through it, and I said it a year ago, it is going to take some time to go through this before we truly understand it. When we show them film on the specific schools, it makes sense to them now. It is probably going to take another year and a return trip. There are still five schools in the Big 12 that we haven’t been to yet, so I think it takes time to play these guys to where you can look back on last year, but also look back on the two years prior to go into that specific stadiums and have guys on your team and a whole bunch of coaches that understand what they are getting themselves into. They will be more familiar with it. The flip side is that they will be more familiar with us, too, so I think that will probably work against us.
On putting more emphasis on the running game We tried that last year. We were searching for guys to put back there, and then finally got smart and put Tavon back there. That has always been a key component to what we do offensively. My two years at Houston, we had a 1,000-yard rusher. I was at Oklahoma State and we almost had 2,000-yard rushers. We have been running the ball 40-50 percent for several years, so that is a key component to it. That is something that we are always trying to get better at. We are excited to have coach Crook on staff - he brings some knowledge when it comes to the running game. Again, we are trying to evaluate everything that we are doing, especially offensively to where we can try and do something a little bit better. It would be exciting to get through spring to see what we have to do to get better from a run-game standpoint to make it more productive more than anything. Those are our guys that have production coming back. Yes, we want to use them a whole bunch.
On the junior college players You don’t know until they are here. We have two on campus now in Kevin White and Dreamius Smith who are going to have their opportunity to play. We are not going to recruit a junior college kid if we don’t have a need for that specific body or that specific position. With that said, we are not going to give them the spot either. Looking to them to fill the role of the senior is tricky as well. You get junior college kids in here that don’t understand what anything is like around here. Look back at what Bruce (Irvin) did. Bruce, in his first year - how much did he play? He played approximately 25 percent of the time. It just takes guys time to get comfortable here. We are looking for more of the guys from last year to step up from a leadership role standpoint and to fill needs with recruiting, but that doesn’t mean you are going to turn it over to them from a leadership standpoint.
On coaching the quarterbacks That was fun, too. We coach for a reason because we like to coach. There are a lot of aspects about this that probably I could say otherwise. We are excited about it. It is an opportunity, and Shannon and I have been talking about this for awhile from an offensive standpoint. Let us reevaluate everything, and let’s start coaching these guys real hard. Coach DeForest and I have been talking about it from a program standpoint and from a special teams standpoint what we need to do to make it better. That is called coaching. Coach Patterson and I have been talking from a defensive standpoint as far as where we are at and what we have to do to get better. It is exciting, and we are pretty motivated to get out there and start coaching.
On bringing in junior college players like Texas Tech and Kansas They are not the first two schools in the country that took that approach. Coach Snyder has been doing it forever. He has been doing that for some time. It is just something that we have talked about, and we thought it was important to get some guys in here that had a little bit more experience and maybe a different body type than what we would get out of a high school guy. Again, we are worried about the 85 guys we have on the roster right now as far as coaching those guys. There is so much change that happens to a team. This team will change with every phase. In the offseason they are going to change, in the spring practice they are going to change, and you are always going to have coaching changes, you are always going to have some scheme changes and then you are going to have some roster changes with guys not making it or from a recruiting standpoint, adding 20 more guys in May or June. Then you have the whole summer session that you have to improve where you can get to camp and really, truly figure out who you have on your team and what your mental makeup is and what your physical makeup is prior to getting into the daily grind of the actual season. There is a need to get the junior college kids in here to get them to play, but you better be relying on the guys that are on your campus right now. I think we have a good collection and nucleus of guys that have played a lot of football here and should continue to improve that we can lean on.
On the new defensive scheme Obviously, we have a couple of weeks of practice. We had a couple of minutes of practice up in New York, and then we played the game. We made the decision to do it. Glad we did it. We will continue to try and implement what we are doing on all three sides of the ball as far as trying to show improvement.