Coach Holgorsen Tuesday Media Conference
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen addressed members of the media today in a media conference.
We’re moving on to Baylor. It should be a fun game in Waco on Saturday night. When you get right down to Baylor, obviously it’s about some offense. Knowing coach (Art) Briles and what he does offensively, and the offense they’ve put on the field over the course of the season, it’s pretty impressive what they’re doing. They’re number one scoring offense in the country and number one in a lot of other things. They’re averaging 750 yards and 70 points.
This dates back to the last four or five games from last year. They’ve won seven games in a row and did it pretty impressively towards the end of the year with some pretty good wins.
They’re going to be confident and ready to go. They’re coming off of a bye week, and they’re fresh and energetic. It will be a very dynamic place to play on Saturday night.
Defensively, they’ve shown a whole lot of improvement. It is about the same guys that we faced when they were here last year. They haven’t changed a whole lot. Their personnel have not changed much. Any time you bring back seven starters like Oklahoma State did last week on defense, they were tough. Baylor’s defense is similar. They have seven or eight starters, who have taken a bunch of snaps. Coach (Phil) Bennett has been there for a while and has been speaking the same language to these guys. They created nine turnovers, and they’ve scored five or six times on defense. When I’m watching the tape I think, “Geeze, there’s another touchdown for their defense.”
I think their defense has scored more touchdowns than they’ve given up. They have only played three half games with their starters. We’re very familiar with them, because it’s the same group of coaches. They’ve been there for six or seven years. It’s been the same offense. It’s the same as what we prepared for when we went against coach Bennett at Kansas State.
We’re excited to play another Top 15 team. That’s what we like to do, and we’re looking forward to the challenge this week.
On playing top teams
We don’t face one next week. The week after that though we will probably face a 6-0, Top 10-Texas Tech team. You get used to it. It won’t catch us by surprise. We play well on the road. We have handled a quality opponent on the road, and obviously we didn’t handle one well on the road.
The travel won’t affect us at all. Nothing that they throw at us will surprise us. We’ve been in five real games, and we’ve handled most of them well so I think we’re prepared to do it.
On changes since last year
They have changed some things since last year. I don’t think some of the things they did with us last year were in their comfort zone. They fixed whatever problems they had that occurred. We had a good game that day. Geno (Smith) was on.
It’s just how they play. It wasn’t the only high-scoring game that they were in last year, and it wasn’t our only one either. It’s kind of how they play. They’re much more up-tempo than Oklahoma State. We pushed the ball last week but not as much as we did last year.
When we played Baylor last year, you were looking at two experienced offenses that really pushed the envelope on tempo. We haven’t been doing that as much, but we did it last week. We were more comfortable with it last week.
They will do it all the time. Last week there were a lot of change of possessions and that will be the case this week. The more possessions you have the more plays you make and the more plays you make the more opportunities you have to score. High-scoring is in their nature.
Both defenses are better. They have senior leadership. We’re getting tremendous senior leadership out of (defensive linemen) Will Clarke and Shaq Rowell, (safety) Darwin Cook and (linebacker) Doug Rigg. That makes a difference.
All of the freshmen we played last year aren’t freshmen anymore. We don’t have a revolving door at safety, when it comes to new people. We have a couple of junior college guys, (junior defensive end) Dontrill Hyman and (junior linebacker) Brandon Golson, that are rushing the quarterback at a very high level.
We have a very different dynamic than they do. They have guys who have been there for a long time, and they’re a year better.
They had some turnover, but this is Briles’s sixth year at Baylor. He’s a program builder. He does a great job of building the program, and he has had that mentality since day one there. They’ve improved a lot of their facilities. What it is now and what it was six years ago is night and day, and two years from now when we go back they will have a brand new stadium as well. You will see the one that they have and ask what’s wrong with it. They’re improving it for specific reasons.
He’s replacing the guys with others who have already been in the program. Robert Griffin III was replaced with (Nick) Florence, who was a fifth year senior and very experienced. When they lost a running back to the NFL, they replaced him with Terrance Williams. He leaves, and they replace him with this (Antwan) Goodley kid. They’re all players who have been in the program.
They don’t quick fix it like we had to do because we didn’t have the numbers. They’ve got guys who have been in the program, and when those guys leave they replace them with guys who have been sitting in those meetings and practicing with them over the course of however many years.
On Baylor’s 27-day break
I wouldn’t like it. I don’t know how [Briles] does it. He was on staff with me at (Texas) Tech, and we did it at Tech. He’s always been better at the end of the year. He’s good with kids. If they dealt with some scrimmaging and stuff I’m not sure.
Timing is a big deal. That’s always an issue with a bye week. You want to heal people up. I’m looking forward to our bye week next week to rejuvenate some guys.
Whether it’s an advantage for them, I don’t know.
On WVU quarterback injuries
They’re day to day. They didn’t go on Sunday. I mentioned that yesterday. We didn’t try to let them go. We didn’t want them to go Sunday. We rested them up and did a bunch of treatment yesterday and today. We will see what they can do today.
I don’t know what healthy means. If they’re both 100 percent right now we would probably go with (redshirt-junior quarterback) Clint (Trickett), because he did a pretty good job keeping the plays alive and had some savvy to him. If he’s half-speed and (redshirt-freshman quarterback) Ford (Childress) is 100 percent, it would make more sense to go with Ford. That being said, if they’re both 50 percent, it would make more sense to go with (junior quarterback) Paul (Millard).
That’s why you practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. In the game of football what your percentage is day to day can make a big difference.
We’ve never had a quarterback miss a game. I told Ford last week that he was the first quarterback to miss a game. He thinks he’s all big and strong and tough, but he’s the first one to ever miss a game.
Opportunity arose for Clint to go out there and play the game. I lost several years off of my life with the communication. He’s a long way away from being able to operate our offense the way I want him to operate our offense. With that said, he reacted to the game well. I was glad he did. It put us in the position to win.
We will evaluate those guys on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and see where they’re at.
Ford’s injury is not ripped from the bone. If it’s ripped from the bone then they can do surgery or something. I’m not a doctor, I don’t know. His range of motion is better today than it was last week. It’s not going to heal itself. It’s going to be ripped forever. The soreness goes away, and you just play through it. It sounds worse than it is. It really just has to heal, and then he will be fine.
These guys need to practice all three days this week, because we’re dealing with guys who are so inexperienced. If they can’t do that all three days. I doubt I’m going to put them in Thursday to play on Saturday. They need the reps, and if they don’t have the reps throughout the course of the week, I’m not going to feel comfortable putting them out there.
On play communication
It starts with learning sign language. Try to learn the sign language of the alphabet. You can probably learn it in the course of the week. That’s step one: learning the signals and what they mean.
From there, the play has to be processed. I give [Trickett] the play and then he has to make sure that the personnel are there, that they’re lined up and communicate it to the offensive line. He has to get to the line of scrimmage, go through the cadence and relay the cadence. He may have motion or a changed snap count. He may change the play altogether, but he has no clue how to do that at this point.
The more you do it, the easier it gets. That’s what he has to improve on. That’s on him. He should be better at that right now. There were times in the game when I signaled a play to him, and he looked at me like I was from outer space. That’s when I threw my fits. It’s just frustrating, and it’s like communicating with someone who speaks a different language. The language that he learned at Florida State is different from the language we teach here, obviously. It’s taken him some time.
He has to learn that and then know what to do with the ball. That is a whole different thing. That’s experience. The good news is that when he snaps the ball he reacts to the game of football and that’s what good about him.
It’s been since day one that I knew we had to learn to communicate better. He’s been here since August first. We got to a point where we had to make a decision and just go with it. I don’t think anyone would have been happy about losing to William & Mary. He will get better with that.
We’ve been practicing that all week. We just walk by each other and do it. I had a real good one for him the other day, but hopefully you all didn’t see that one.
It’s two people communicating. I have to get better at it, and he’s got to get better at it. We’ve both got to get better at it. Through games and through practices we will improve on that. It’s not just getting the signal. It’s getting it and relaying it to everyone else. That’s just the job of a quarterback. We do it a little bit differently than what Clint’s used to, and we’re going to adapt as coaches. He will adapt, and we will get better.
On (redshirt freshman kicker) Josh Lambert
He probably did so well, because I didn’t yell at him. I would’ve yelled at him a year ago. I promised coach (Joe) DeForest that I wouldn’t talk to the kickers. He missed one. One got blocked, because a guy lined up offsides. No wonder he blocked it, I could get there if I did that. We had penetration in the middle. They’re PAT block game was the best I’ve ever seen. (Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman) Marquis (Lucas), bless his heart, got beat up every kick. They just got pressure and blocked it.
That’s frustrating, but for him to be able to block that out and go out there, and the whole PAT team to be able to just dig in and keep them shielded and punch two or three of them through in the second half was big. That means we’re getting better.
I did promise DeForest I wouldn’t talk to the kickers, and I haven’t.
On punt returns
I was more frustrated than you about our returns, I can assure you that. Their punter sprayed it everywhere. I don’t know what their net punt was, but it wasn’t nearly as good as what our net punt was. We will check that off as a win.
(Sophomore wide receiver) Jordan (Thompson) made a mistake. He lines up on the 10, and if he backs up, he doesn’t catch it. That’s kind of the cardinal rule in punt return. I’ll be darned if he didn’t back up seven yards and catch it. We worked on that Sunday night. We put him on the 10, and he backed up a couple times and had to get out of the way.
(Redshirt-sophomore wide receiver) Ronald (Carswell) was confident. He’s getting there, and he’s catching it.
Kick return is a different story. I think our kick returners are garbage. If guys catch it, they run and get drilled that’s the front line people. The scheme and all of that stuff is good. Kick off return is 100 percent timing. We have yet to find guys who can catch it and run. We had open auditions on Sunday night. I would anticipate a couple of new people back there.
You can’t just plug people into being punt returners. The two who we’ve been working, we will be continuing to work with them. If we can get some yards on that we’re good. Our net punt was not a disaster. Our kick return was a disaster.
We have about six bodies who we’re working again tomorrow and then we will make a decision. I will be anxiously awaiting that. It might take us until Thursday to figure it out.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia Mountaineers, WVU, Big 12 Conference football
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