Dana Holgorsen - Practice Update 4
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen spoke with the media earlier today.
Camp is about half-way over. We just had our 12th practice. Our morning practice was out here unpadded. Big week - obviously we need to keep moving forward. We have a lot of improvement to be made on all three sides of the ball.
I am happy where we are at to this point, but half-way into camp means we have a long way to go. We will have six afternoon practices that will be regular afternoon practices. As I mentioned the last time, we have started to get into situational work. We have had two red zone, score-zone days. Third downs are about the same as red zone, score zone. We started to introduce a lot of the situational and tempo stuff. In the Big 12, we are going to have to be able to play fast, which is what we like to do offensively, but we will have to defend that as well.
In addition to the situational stuff, we have begun doing a lot of tempo and defending tempo. We put people in situations in which they have to think quickly and react. We have a long ways to go to be functional on offense and defense when it comes to a tempo.
There are a lot of position battles that are ongoing and will be throughout this week. I am not making any decisions this week on any of the starters. Any time you have six more practices and a week of camp, things can change pretty drastically. Guys have good days and bad days. You are looking for guys that can consistently put a couple of good days together, which we are starting to figure out who those guys are. If the guys have a bad day, then they need to regroup pretty quickly if they want to be in the hunt for the starting job or a back up role. That is where we are.
On position battles beside quarterback
We have talked a lot about cornerback play. (Redshirt-junior cornerback) Travis Bell is transitioning, (redshirt-junior cornerback) Ishmael Banks has been playing just as good as anybody, (freshman cornerback) Daryl Worley is a guy that has a tremendous amount of upside, (redshirt-sophomore cornerback) Avery Williams is coming off a year's worth of a neck injury, so he is getting better everyday, (redshirt-freshman cornerback) Brandon Napoleon is maturing and (redshirt-senior cornerback) Brodrick Jenkins is the veteran of the group, whether he can hold the younger guys off or not, we will see.
I think we have six quality guys there that need to continue to get better. Playing in the Big 12, the receivers are good. We lost a lot of good ones last year and everyone is thinking the Big 12 is minus a lot of star power, which is not true. Nobody knows who they are yet. The Big 12 is going to have plenty of receivers that can play. That is a position that is challenging, so we need guys that are confident and obliviously better than what we were playing with last year. Safeties, I think we are fine. Receivers we have a lot of bodies there, but same thing at receiver as it is at cornerback. You have to find the guys that are ready to take the next step, and we do not know who that is just yet.
On offensive line and the center position
(Redshirt-freshman lineman) Tyler Orlosky has been doing well. He has the upper hand right now (at center). We are playing about 10 bodies on the offensive line, and it would be 11 if we had (redshirt-freshman) Adam Pankey, but he is a ways away.
I think Orlosky has the upper hand at center right now. It is between him and (redshirt-freshman) Tony Matteo. Those are the two that are taking the majority of the reps, and we are talking about two redshirt-freshmen there. Both of them have a lot of growing to do. Tyler is probably a little bit ahead physically.
On junior offensive lineman Stone Underwood
We moved him to guard. It is tough to come in at center without any spring practice or a year under your belt. Physically, the game is different here than what he is used to, and then you add the pressure of making calls and snapping as well as the battle you have to play each and every snap. It is hard. He has a redshirt year that we may use, but we will figure that out down the road. We moved him to guard because we needed another guard body on the second team, and physically he is doing good things. He is making progress, but we felt like he would make more progress right now for us at guard rather than center.
On the Big 12 and WVU being minus star power
I have been talking to our guys about this all the time. How are we going to score a point without three of the best players that ever played the game here? Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, between the two of them, scored 40-some touchdowns, which is obviously pretty good. That doesn't mean we do not have guys on our roster that can’t score touchdowns. The Big 12 lost a lot of receivers to the NFL last year. There are some guys waiting in the wings, maturing and developing that we just don't know yet. I can say that about our guys as well. We have some guys that are going to develop into some pretty good players.
On the decision making of the quarterbacks
I would say (junior) Paul Millard makes the best decisions and the worst decisions. He has gotten the most reps and is pretty comfortable. He will still do some bonehead stuff, as they all do. Any time you have guys that do not have a lot of starts under their belt, they are going to make some good decisions and bad decisions.
(Redshirt-freshman) Ford Childress continues to get better. He had his best day on Saturday since he has been here. We took about 45 live reps from the red zone, and he had his best day. He made some really good decisions and good throws in the right situations to get the ball in the end zone.
(Redshir-junior) Clint Trickett has a presence to him. Every rep he takes he gets better and does some good things. They all make good decisions at times but because of inexperience, they make poor decisions that get them in trouble. The guy that reduces the poor decisions will be the guy that wins the job. I think they are all capable of being pretty good.
On Millard's decision making
There is a fine line. (He has) the Texan gunslinger mentality - you don't throw for 4,500 yards in a senior season without being able to take some risks. You do not want to handcuff him either because if you handcuff him and not give him the ability to be able to make decisions and pull the trigger, you (might) get to the point where they are afraid to make mistakes. That is not what we do offensively. We point out the bad decisions and say you should have done this instead. If you make some poor decisions or take some risks and they result in turnovers, then you are not going to win football games.
That is the start - the quarterback that doesn’t make the bad decisions and turn the ball over is the guy that will have the chance to be the guy. That is probably the same everywhere. I do not care what offense you run or where you are at, the quarterback that takes care of the ball and puts guys in position to be successful is the guy that will be your quarterback.
On Childress' inexperience aiding him
You can figure it out in practice. Paul Millard has limited game experience, and Clint Trickett has played in just a handful of games; I view them all the same. I do not view any of them with an upper hand to win the job based on whether they have played in a couple of games or not. I have said since day one that the guy that produces and plays the best in practices and the situation we put him in is going to be the guy that we go with in game one. So I do not take anything into account that has happened in games over the past couple of years. It is all based on the situations that we put them in.
On tempo sorting out the quarterback battle
It will play into making the decision. When you go fast and are able to handle it without forgetting things or making poor decisions, that does bring some things to light. We will continue to put them in those situations this week.
On offensive coaching philosophy and taking chances
I have taken a few chances. I get asked all the time what kind of offense I run, and I don’t really know. Is it the air raid? The spread? Are you running the ball more? Shoot, I do not know; whatever works. If it works, do it again.
We are continuing to evaluate our personnel. We did move (sophomore linebacker) Garrett Hope to fullback. (Freshman wide receiver) Ellijah Wellman is doing really good and has adjusted to the game really well. He is much like (redshirt-sophomore wide receiver) Cody Clay where you can tell him to go block back on a defensive end, and he will do it 48 times in a row for you and crack his head open if you let him. We moved Garrett there to be able to alleviate some of that. We want to run the ball. We want to be able to spread it out with four or five receivers and throw the ball. How much we do with each of them depends on what kind of success we are having.
Our offense can look like an old school pro-style offence at times, but it can also look like an air raid, spread it out and play with tempo offense. You have to figure out what you are good at and start focusing on that. I have not figured that out yet.
On the eighth official and tempo of play
When we experimented with it in the spring, the Big 12 brought in a crew and I was out there behind the quarterback calling sacks so I was able to watch how it played out. The referee, the guy that usually spotted the ball - I felt so bad for that guy at times over the past couple of years. He would have to hold the ball or he would be getting out of there as we were snapping it, and then he could not sit there and focus on what was going on. Watching it in the spring, which we tempoed a good bit that specific day, he was just back and I was talking to him the whole time. He was saying, 'Oh man this is going to be great.' He can help dictate when there are subs, when the guy needs to get out of there, focus more on false starts, focus more on misalignments, have his wits about him on protecting the quarterback and make holding calls. I think it is just going to be more efficient.
From a tempo aspect, I felt like you can play pretty fast regardless if there were seven out there or eight. I think they are going to make better decisions. I fully support it.
On officials in non-conference games
I do not think it will affect anything that we do. We are still going to play the same game that we always play. When we are in conference, I think we will see that they are making better decisions because they have their wits about them rather than being rushed. You can snap the ball quickly regardless.
The Big 12 allows you do to it. The SEC will probably be a little bit slower from getting out over the ball. I do not try to sub and go fast. I do not try to break that rule. If we want to tempo, then we are going to keep the same people in the game, and as soon as the play is over, they know they are going to have to hurry up and line up. We are going to snap the ball as soon as we can, which will be somewhere between 10-15 seconds. That to me is easy. I do not think it matters if there are seven or eight guys out there. I do think that we are going to get better play.
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