MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Select members of the West Virginia University football coaching staff met with the media on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, at the Milan Puskar Center Team Room.
Assistant Coach (Defensive Coordinator) Tony Gibson
On what’s different with the defense this season
Our kids have experience right now. We have a lot of guys back. I think we’re trying to simplify our scheme a little bit and figure out what is going to work for us.
On the defensive line after the departure of Will Clarke to the NFL
We tried to address that in recruiting. We got (defensive lineman) Shaquille Riddick
, who can do some of the same things Will (Clarke) was doing. Then you have (defensive linemen) Dontrill Hyman
, Eric Kinsey
and Noble Nwachukwu
– guys who can fill in against the run and those kind of things. We feel pretty good about that position right now.
Dontrill is very athletic. He’s 6-5, 290 pounds and moves really well. He’s a very athletic kid. He plays the run well. He’s big enough and strong enough to be able to do that. Also, he can give you pass rush, too.
I think that motivation will take care of itself with Hyman. He’s a senior, and he knows this is his last shot. Every little kid’s dream is to play in the NFL. Obviously, for him, he has to come out and have a great year to be able to do that. Playing time is motivation – you’re either going to play and perform, or you’re not going to get in games.
On defensive graduate assistant coach Anthony Leonard
Anthony is going to be a great coach. He’s a guy who has played here and loves West Virginia. What’s good is – when we’re showing cut-ups or film – the kids get to see him on that film. When he starts talking to the kids, their ears perk up. He’s just a great guy to have around.
Senior Associate Head Coach (Defensive Line) Tom Bradley
On the defensive pass rush
We’re getting better. We’re working a lot of different things, different people. Continuity is going to get better as we keep going. In the middle of camp right now, we’re a little bit banged up. Everybody has bumps and bruises. We’re working through a lot of the fundamental things that we have to do to get better. A lot of times, too, with pass rush, people talk about sacks. I’m a big believer in tipped balls, knocked down balls, get a couple tipped passes – that’s a big help, too. So we’re working on getting in front of people and getting our hands up. It’s about doing all the little things that make your pass rush good. It’s not always about the sacks.
He’s playing everywhere. We rotate them in to the ones and twos, so they get to work with each other. We’re hoping we don’t get to the point where we have a set one and two. We’d like to get a rotation going with our people to keep them fresh. Who starts and how they play the game – a lot of (playing time) may depend on the game and the type of team we’re playing.
On Riddick’s durability
He can be an every-down guy. He’s 240 and is gaining weight. He’s eating well and gaining some weight. I think he’s somewhere between 240 and 242. We’d like to get him up around 250 if we could.
On Bradley starting to narrow down the rotation
We’re getting better. Because of bumps and bruises, we’ve had to adjust that. But I think we’re pairing them down pretty well. We’d like to come up with six or seven guys. Obviously, we’d like to be two-deep and have a swing guy who can play nose and end.
Assistant Coach (Defensive Line) Damon Cogdell
On the pass rush right now
We’ve got to get better. We have a lot of other guys at the linebacker position who can help us out, as well. I think we’ll be really good. (Shaquille) Riddick has been doing a great job and Noble (Nwachukwu) is doing very well, too.
He’s at end right now. He was banged up a little bit the last couple days. But he’s back to full-go. We just have to keep a bond, keep executing and get better day in and day out.
On getting a pass rush with a three-man front
It’s tough. I told them that we’re going to get to the ball with the three man front we have and don’t make excuses. That’s going to be one of the first things somebody says is ‘you guys aren’t going to get back there with three guys.’ We’re going to prove a lot of people wrong.
On the attention to detail from the defensive line
Like I tell those guys, no question is a wrong question. Be comfortable, feel comfortable and talk to us as a coaching staff. We’ll be fine.
On goals set by the defensive line
It’s still in progress. We’re still in camp, but we will set those goals next week when we get going through regular practice. That’s something we will talk about on Saturday after our last practice of camp.
Assistant Coach (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks) Shannon Dawson
Probably a little bit ahead of what I envisioned. A year makes a big difference in the make-up of a quarterback. There’s no doubt. He will tell you that himself. It has a lot to do with experience around him too. Having a lot of capable bodies around you at quarterback helps, especially up front. Those five guys are doing a great job up front which makes our job a lot easier.
Obviously, you want him to take reps in the spring and in hindsight, but he has a pretty good mind for the game. I even tell the younger kids right now that are not taking reps that you can sit there and pout and waste time if you want to or you can take mental reps and be involved mentally. Trickett (quarterback) did. Reps would have been ideal, but he took advantage of his time off. He was involved and focused.
On the offensive tempo
I think it’s good. I don’t think it’s ever exactly where you want it to be, because you always strive to get better and push the limits. Not that we are always trying to play fast, but when you do want to play fast you want to get those guys lined up as quick as possible. Those guys up front are getting lined up extremely quick right now, but we are going to keep pushing the limits of that. You never get it where you want, but I’m pretty pleased with what they been doing the last couple of days. It goes up and down like everything else at practice. We would have one practice where you look at it and think, man, those guys are getting lined up fast, but you have to keep your finger on it too because it’s natural to let things lapse if you don’t. You have to keep pressing them to get lined up and ultimately it’s about my meeting room. If those guys aren’t lining up the way we want too then I blame it on the quarterback. It’s his job to keep pushing those guys.
Assistant Coach (Cornerbacks) Coach Mitchell
On defensive backs physicality
I think it encompasses all things. The cornerback position is probably one of the hardest on the field. I know that it is one of the most visible. Not only do you have to be the guy with the high football IQ, but you need to be a guy to adjust in certain situations, whether you can blitz off the edge, a guy that can come down and affect the quick screen game or a guy that can handle any kind of leverage vertically. I think that guy has to be the most well-rounded guy on the football field. If toughness is a part of that, then you are definitely going to see that in corner play this year.
On depth chart
I think it’s always evolving. It’s a choice each and every day to go out there and perform at a high level, and that’s the challenge to those guys. If you are performing at the high level then you are deserving an opportunity to go out there and start or have significant reps. I am never going to get off of that stance, because I think it keeps promoting competition throughout the season.
On comfort level with the number of guys on the depth chart
I think we are getting there. We will get out of camp and reassess things with some of the other coaches to settle on a depth chart and go from there
Assistant Coach (Running Backs) JuJuan Seider
On running back competition
Every day someone does something different. I get more excited about the blocking than I do the run, because you have to sacrifice your body for the next man. Seeing them guys step in front of a big defensive end and making that block to spring a guy free is just as exciting as the guy making the run. It is a part of that play getting off. Redshirt junior Dustin (Garrison, running back) has been fighting hard and running the ball well and straining for everything he got. (Sophomore Wendell Smallwood
(running back) Wendell is Wendell. He is going to hurt you in passing, receiving and running. I am really excited with the way (redshirt sophomore) Rushel Shell
(running back) is playing and picking up the offense. (Senior) Dreamius (Smith, running back) is really starting to turn on these last couple days in practice. (Redshirt junior Andrew) Buie (running back) is following the Wendell mode and doing a lot of motion stuff. Just find them guys competing every day.
A lot of it is trust and running behind your pass and finishing runs. I really challenged him this week, and a lot of it hasn’t been his fault. A lot of it has been our fault, because you only have so many reps. I can’t just force feed a lot of reps to him without making sure that the other guys have reps too. We have a rotation and if you score quick then your series might be over. The last couple of days I wanted to challenge him and see where his mind set is at. Is he going to compete and take the job or is he going to falter back. I really been proud with the way he stepped up and competed, especially yesterday when we ran some situation stuff.
On head coach Dana Holgrosen saying that sophomore Wendell Smallwood is the most versatile guy and sophomore Rushel Shell is the most natural guy
I agree with that 100 percent. Russell is probably the most natural, but Wendell probably brings more because he can do so much. It is really tough on deciding if you had the first pick who would you take.