CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Head coach Dana Holgorsen addressed members of the media Saturday afternoon during the Mountaineers’ open practice at University of Charleston Stadium.
Welcome, everyone. I'm excited to be down here again. Much like it was two weeks ago in Wheeling, our guys are excited about this. I think it is good for us get out and show everybody how much work we've been doing. It's far from the finished product, but to be able to get the fans and you guys to come out and identify who some guys are and how'll they're progressing is great. And then, the flip side of it is us trying to get a charge out of it, as well. Our guys get excited about being able to wake up and get in a spring practice, and play in front of a bunch of people. It kind of gets them cranked up. It might affect someone better or it might affect someone negatively – that's why I wanted to do this as well.
We won't do as many drills as we did in the last two weeks. We will do an Oklahoma Drill, like we did before, just to get everyone cranked up. We've got a good special teams drill that shows how everyone works in open space. We're going to do some individual drills for about 10 minutes, then the rest of it is going to be a scrimmage. We'll go ones-on-ones, twos-on-twos, threes-on-threes and when we're satisfied with the amount of reps we’ve got, we'll cut it off.
On the players getting to see the fan turnout and their importance to the state
I think they see it (their importance to the state) a little bit. We weren't really able to interact with anyone in Wheeling, because it was a high school stadium. With this being the University of Charleston, we can advertise, we can do an autograph session, so I think the majority of our guys understand what this means to the people of the state of West Virginia and how much excitement there is surrounding what they've done, and how important that is to everybody. We've made that very well-known and we're working hard to rectify a 4-8 season, that's for sure.
On getting used to the fan atmosphere
It’s one area of these open practices that I didn’t take into consideration. It simulates a bit like a road game. We have to get on the bus, travel and keep our minds clear on the task at hand. We have to be able to ignore things and play ball. It’s really been good and I look forward to watching our players play out there.
On what things he’s been impressed with and what needs to be improved
We don’t have enough time to discuss the things that need to be worked on. We still have a long way to go. It’s 10 practices in, there’s five more left. This is where we can get a lot of live reps in. We haven’t got a lot of live reps in leading up to this point. We will get in somewhere between 80 reps today and the remaining four practices we will likely get in another 200-250 live reps that will tell us where we are, and where we need to go from here. I am impressed with the guys’ energy. They have been excited about practicing and it seems like they are having a good time and trying to push their teammates to get better. I am also happy with the cohesion on the coaching staff as well. The continuity on offense is a lot better than it was last year because we have had two years together. Defensively, I couldn’t be happier with how coach (Tony) Gibson has taken the reigns. We are listening to each other in the room and it’s working well.
Nothing of note. Hopefully today we remain relatively healthy. We’ve been healthy so far this season, there’s always a nick or a bump here and there. You’ll probably see some guys not dressed, it doesn’t mean they are out, just that they aren’t 100 percent for today.
On the communication on offense
I don’t even have to look at (senior quarterback) Paul Millard
, I can just shoot him a look or a signal and he knows because he’s done it for four years. (senior quarterback) Logan Moore
is new at it and so is (sophomore quarterback) Skyler Howard
which is frustrating. I’m also always looking out of the corner of my eye and pay attention to (senior quarterback) Clint Trickett
. He’s always behind everybody, taking everything in and signaling. I feel much better about where he is at. Probably around September 1, I will feel better about where Skyler is, it just takes time.
On what player has stood out the most this spring
That’s hard to say. If I’m going to pinpoint two people, it would be (sophomore offensive lineman) Adam Pankey
at left tackle, since we haven’t mentioned him all spring. Probably (junior safety) KJ Dillon on defense. He has been very disruptive on defense and more disciplined. He’s always been disruptive on defense, but sometimes it was disruptive for himself or me than he has opposing offenses. Now he is more disciplined, he’s lining up better, he’s more disciplined, and he’s staying on his feet and making more plays on defense as well.
Two other players I would mention on defense would be (junior linebacker) Edward Muldrow
and (senior linebacker) Brandon Golson
. You talk about being disruptive on defense and we need sacks. We didn’t have any sacks on defense last year and those guys have been disruptive as far as getting to the quarterback, along with (junior safety) KJ Dillon and (junior safety) Karl Joseph
in the secondary.
On the guard play
They get complacent at times because they can dominate at times. This season, they can potentially be dominating guards. There’s a significant difference between them and the guys behind them, so they just need to fight off complacency.