MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen addressed members of the media Tuesday night, as the Mountaineers finished their second day of spring practice.
After the second day of non-padded practice, there isn’t a tremendous amount to report on. It will be a couple weeks before we can build some sort of depth chart. I will say this, from a coaching standpoint; it feels like it’s the first day on the job, so to speak. Offensively we have so many positions open. We have some new coaches in here and have some new philosophies. There’s a lot of open competition for positions, and some scheme discussions that are open as well. We are taking it slow and trying to promote the best way to do some specific things. It feels though as we just got here, so to speak, some staff is new, we have some new bodies out there, some young bodies, guys who haven’t made plays yet. The same thing goes from a defensive standpoint. We’ve got some guys that are new on that side of the ball. We don’t have too many guys that have gotten to play in this defense. What coach Patterson is putting out there is going to be different than what we did last year, from a scheme standpoint, from a structural standpoint, and from a philosophy standpoint. It’s like day one for those guys, as well, so it’s exciting to watch those guys and what they’re doing. The same thing goes for special teams, we are changing some things with what we are doing, coach DeForest is one of the better ones in the country at putting things together and trying to give a lot of guys the opportunity to play. On all three sides of the ball, it’s pretty fresh, and it’s pretty energetic, the guys are eager and I would say the same thing from a coaching standpoint as well. We are excited about getting to work every day, we are excited about getting to coach these guys, and I think it will be a fun and productive spring going forward
On the personalities that the new coaches bring to the team
It’s good. Coaching changes are part of the profession that you have to learn to deal with. Regardless of what the reason is for a coaching change, you always try to turn it into a positive for your program. With the guys that we have brought in here, they all bring something different to the table. If you look at the guys we’ve hired, they are all pretty excited about being here for a variety of reasons. We obviously tried to locate guys that wanted to be here, that were eager and energetic about joining this staff, coming to work every day at a winning program. The morale as a whole is good because we have a bunch of guys that are excited about the opportunity to be here. They all bring something different to the table. They were hired for specific reasons. They are motivated for a variety of reasons, but the biggest thing is bringing in ideas, having a voice, and bringing some specific things to the table.
On whether familiarity with the WVU program was a factor in hiring
You take a guy like Brian Mitchell who didn’t know much about the program. But based on my familiarity with him, I knew he could coach the heck out of these corners. You can see a difference in what our corners are doing right now. Coach (Tony) Gibson has been here before, Lonnie (Galloway), JaJuan (Seider) has been here before, and so they understand how things work. They understand the inner workings of Mountaineer nation. But I’m going to run my program a bit differently than previous head coaches. I had to feel good about guys that wanted to bring something different to the table and understand how things work around here, but also have the knowledge to coach up certain positions. I can’t say enough about how everyone is meshing and the amount of work, excitement, and energy that is permeating through the building.
On what attracted him to hiring offensive line coach Ron Crook
Well, I’ve never worked with him so a lot of my knowledge came through word of mouth. But I have so much respect for a guy that coached Division II football for 10 years. I grew up as a small college coach in Division II and Division III for several years, before getting an opportunity to be at this level. He wanted to be at this level, which is why he and his wife took a graduate assistant job after being a full-time coach at Division II for 10 years, because he wanted to be at this level. Going to Harvard which is a good program and coaching the offensive line for a long time, I knew what they were doing offensively and it looked good. And then going to Stanford and being a part of that program is great. He had a great job out there but just wanted to come home. We know what we want to do offensively, but I’m never above getting someone’s input on how we can make it better. He brings something to the table that is different than what I’ve done in the past, which is interesting.
On how he became aware of JaJuan Seider before hiring him
Well, he’s got a degree from here, he played here. We needed a south Florida recruiter, and he’s potentially one of the best ones in the country, from a south Florida recruiting standpoint. With that said, he’s still gotta get his hands on some running backs and coach the heck out of them. Being a former quarterback, I had to see if he was capable of doing that. He was at Marshall for three years in a passing offense. They have good backs and have had success. I brought him up here, and we talked, and I was sold immediately.
On the most important part of the spring practice
It’s very similar to two years ago. Offensively, we were just feeling our way. Last spring it was similar, but with experienced guys. We have a plan, and we are just going to go out there and play football and evaluate guys. We will try to put them in position to be successful and assemble some sort of depth chart. That depth chart will change when we add 20 guys in the summer.
On the mindset going into the spring without the core veteran offensive group that was there last year
Everybody gets up in arms thinking, “Oh my gosh, how are these guys going to play football without these guys who are going to be drafted in the NFL.” It happens every year, and in every different program across the country you lose people and you try to move forward. As good as Geno, Tavon, Stedman, J.D., Shawne, Joe, Jeff, and Josh were, they weren’t going to get a lot better. Stedman was in that boat, he wasn’t going to get a lot better if he stayed one more year. He hit that plateau, where it was time to move on to bigger opportunities. And this gives younger guys the opportunity to step up and believe that they are the guy. That naturally happens, guys get older and get more reps, but also the burden is on their shoulders to become better players. I’m looking forward to seeing which guys those are going to be.