MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen addressed members of the media Tuesday in his weekly press conference.
We have an off-week this week, obviously. How we’re going to approach it is going to have a lot to do with player development. That is going to be extremely important this week. We’re not going to spend a tremendous amount of time on Iowa State until next week.
Coaches are going to start game planning and getting our stuff together, but this week is really more about coaching our guys. There are a lot of guys whose primary responsibility right now is to be on the scout team, whether they’re redshirting, or they’re not ready to play. We will take those guys and practice them Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and get them a lot of reps.
We’ll lose some of that time in December and losing that time is unfortunate, but when you look at it it’s only about five or six practices that you’re losing. We’ll make that up here this week and play a lot of ball.
We’re trying to get those guys as developed as we possibly can on the football field. We’re looking forward to being able to coach those guys here Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We’ll get out on the road recruiting Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We’re still in the evaluation period, so we’ve got all of our coaches going out and watching various games, or going to high schools and getting transcripts. Then we’re back to work Monday for our game against Iowa State. We won’t be in school, so we’ll be able to meet and practice all day Monday through Friday.
The day after (the Iowa State game) starts recruiting, which is the contact period. That’s when I get involved, and it will be the first time I’ve been involved in December, from a recruiting perspective. I’ll probably get out there for about 10 days and do some recruiting.
On his approach to the bye week
Some of the starters need to keep playing ball. We’re starting some of them, because we have to, so they need to keep playing ball. Other starters, like Karl Joseph
, have a tremendous amount of snaps under their belt right now. Nick Kwiatkoski
has played a lot of football this year. Shaq Rowell
and Will Clarke
have both played a lot of snaps. So you have to get them a little rest. You can’t just keep grinding them.
But guys like Dontrill Hyman
, who haven’t played a lot of snaps, need to keep playing ball this week. And he’s just one example. All of the redshirted guys and the other guys who aren’t playing a lot of snaps need to practice. We’ll practice and get them better.
You can’t just practice them six or seven days in a row. You have to give them some time off, and then we need to go recruiting. So you have to figure out what the best balance is.
On evaluating redshirts
I have this sheet, and I walk around every day and put a plus or a minus by (their name). But you get into a weekly routine where you’re trying to do your best to try and win the game and a lot of those redshirt guys do scout team work or they’re injured. You lose sight of some of those guys, and you don’t spend as much time with those guys as you want to. That’s where the importance of the off-week is: We’re able to focus on those guys, see where they’re at and be able to coach them.
On if the number of snaps are catching up to Darwin Cook
He broke down. And Karl is the same way. Both of those kids play hard. They play with a lot of effort, and they leave it all on the field. Darwin’s groin got him. We’re a little beat up and then he goes out in the first quarter and we didn’t have him for the whole game. Daryl Worley
re-aggravated his shin, and we didn’t have him for two quarters. It’s obviously not where we want to be. We need snaps. We need depth. When guys play 92 snaps a game at the level that Karl lays at, it’s going to catch up to them. It’s going to catch up to Darwin, and it did. When you lose him and put Jarrod Harper
in there, it’s a different level. But Jarrod went in there and got good, quality snaps. He played at a high level. He played well, and he’s going to be a good player for us. You have to take advantage of that.
It’s his groin. He should be fine. He’s out this week. He wouldn’t be able to play this week, but he’ll rest and hopefully we’ll get him back next week.
He’s played his way into being a potential very high draft pick. He’s played very well. He’s a guy where the snaps are catching up to him, as well. You can’t play at that level at that position for 80 snaps a game for 12 straight games without it affecting you. He didn’t grade out like he has in the past but, that said, he’s one of the guys that we obviously look to for leadership. He’s a tremendous leader. He has his degree, he does things right, and he’s going to be a great pro because he attacks the game the way you need to attack the game. I’m really proud of him. We’re going to miss him once the season is over, for sure.
On who will play quarterback in the bye week
All three are different. Paul is healthy, and he has more snaps than anybody on our team. Clint is still dealing with his head injury, and Ford still has a muscle that is ripped in half. So whoever can take the snaps needs to get out there and take the snaps. We could certainly use them. You can’t get a couple of guys signed up to take snaps today, so whoever is out there is who we’ll use.
On the team’s effort in last week’s game at Kansas
The Texas game beat us twice. I talked about it not happening, and it did. Why? You guys can keep pointing the finger at me. That’s what my job is. I didn’t reach them. We didn’t get them back, and that’s on me. I don’t mind saying it.
It was the first time all year that we didn’t play with the effort and energy that it takes to win the game. There have been losses where I’ve been comfortable with it as long as it doesn’t have to do with effort. If we lose because of effort, that’s where I get in a bad spot. And I saw that for the first time on Saturday.
On his discussion with Oliver Luck
We visit a lot. He’s my boss so we talk a good bit. He understands where we’re at and where the program is at He understands what it takes to be able to get better. And we’re working hard on that.
It’s pretty important. He’s a football guy. He understands what it takes to win. He understands what it takes to get better and he knows that we’re on the right track.
On recruiting this year
This would be my fourth recruiting class. The first one was three-quarters done, before I got here and done in the Big East. The second one was half done selling the Big East and the second half we could start talking about the Big 12 for the first time. Last year was 100 percent talking about the Big 12. And this year, if we meet our quota of 25, then we’re over our scholarship limit. That is the first time that’s ever happened. The depth is building. The numbers are getting right. You don’t want to lose guys but the fact of the matter is that if guys don’t go to class, or if they fail out or if they don’t do the right things socially and get kicked out, that happens when you’re dealing with 100 kids. More than likely we’re going to lose a couple for a variety of reasons. But I’m comfortable with us being able to go out and get to 25, because we’re three-quarters of the way there right now. We’re to the point where we’ll have a full roster for the first time since I’ve been here.
On retention of both players and assistant coaches
It’s an issue everywhere in college football. Retention is something you want to focus hard on. And we do want retention with our coaching staff and with our players. You spend time coaching them and giving them reps, so you want that to guys improving, getting out on the field and having the results that you look forward to.
On the current state of the facilities
There’s a list, and I don’t think I’m being unreasonable with the requests that I’m asking for. We’re working hard on trying to get out there to raise the money that we need to be able to make some of this stuff a reality.
No. 1 was the weight room, and we got that accomplished. You have to be able to meet appropriately, which we can’t. And you need to be able to practice appropriately, which we can’t. That is where we’re headed.
On the team getting turf practice fields
That would be awesome. Everyone says we don’t have the space because we live on a mountain, well that’s not true. We have the space, and we use that practice field six times per year. What are we doing? You shouldn’t have to practice on your game field. Nobody else does. So we have the space, and we need to be able to utilize it. And the only way with the climate and the maintenance, the only way to do it is with a turf field. So that’s in our plans. It’s all about being able to raise the appropriate funds to be able to pay for it.
I think (grass fields) are very overrated. If we’re going to play on real grass, you don’t have to practice on real grass. It’s just about having a proper surface to be able to get your work done. And if it’s real grass, that’s fine. I’m comfortable with it as long it holds up. But right now that grass can’t hold up. If you’re on it when it’s wet, then you’re tearing it up and you can’t use it.
On the current state of the indoor practice facility
You’d have to blow it up. If you want to use it the way people want to be able to use your indoor facility, then safety is key. You need runoff, you need proper length and if you want to do the kicking game in there then you need it to be a little higher. It’s dysfunctional. We use it for some offseason stuff, but it needs to be a bit more functional.