MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen addressed members of the media on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, at the Steve Antoline Family Football Practice Field.
Practice 10 going as expected. A lot of reps, a lot of bodies, a lot of bad football, a lot of good football, all that good stuff. So pretty much right where we should be for practice 10.
On how the team looked after watching them live last Saturday
We have had four live periods prior to that, so the difference in the scrimmage is the kids get a little more excited about it because there is not an hour and a half of practice prior to live stuff. So everything that we did, we got 105 reps on Saturday, it was fine. Some good stuff, some bad stuff, but we have had four live periods prior to that. There’s nothing special about a scrimmage it’s just exclusively live reps as opposed to drill work and all of that good stuff.
On if the offense is different under Assistant Coach (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks) Jake Spavital
It’s real similar. I mean Jake would be the first to say it. He was trained under me for how many years? One at Houston, one at Oklahoma State, two here, I’d guess, so almost half his career he’s been with me anyway, so we share a lot of the same philosophies. It’s much like when I broke off from Coach (Mike) Leach, there were similarities and there were differences. He did some small things that were different that we’ve talked about. We’ve combined a lot of football minds and just figuring out what our personnel is and trying to implement what we think is going to be successful. Some of which people are going to know about, some of which they are not going to know about, and we try to keep as much secretive as we possibly can for obvious reasons. We’re not trying to win the spring game in two weeks, we’re trying to win that Sunday night game in August. That’s the first time that it really counts. Along those lines, thrilled about that move, too. That’s going to be great for the program. Everybody watched Texas-Notre Dame last year. A lot of eyes on that game, and there will be a lot of eyes on this game. It’s great for our fan base because of the old rival. It would be the 52nd game, I believe, so that’s huge, and then in addition to that just the amount of eyes across the country. It’s going to be awesome. So we’ll try to keep as much secret between now and then.
Should, he’s a fifth year senior. Guys who have been on campus doing things for five years should get better. It was good to finally see him do some things on defense. I thought he really made a difference last year special teams wise. He plays the same position as (senior safety) Kyzir White
, so whether it’s him doing that kind of stuff on defense, which we know he can. I’d like to get those same reps out of him on special teams too to make a difference in that area. He made a lot of plays special teams wise last year. It’s good to have two of those bodies at that one position to be able to get more special teams reps out of those guys.
On the size of his defense
That’s why this defense was developed. We’re not getting a ton of (defensive) d-line bodies. We just never have, that’s why (associate head coach (defensive coordinator/linebackers) (Tony) Gibby (Gibson) was a part of coming up with this style of defense. It fits the Big 12 to me. As much skill as there is in the Big 12 is offensive oriented and as perimeter oriented as it is in the Big 12 you have to be able to rep. That’s why we’ve had success, and I think the NFL likes what they see too because we put a lot of those skill guys, under sized guys into the league as well.
On redshirt senior defensive lineman Jon Lewis
Fifth-year senior, the guys who stick it out. Especially a local guy, a walk on, sticking it out. Along the same lines of Justin Arndt, been here for a long time, smart kid, cares. Grew up a Mountaineer, important to him, gives it everything he’s got. He’s helped us much like Justin did for four years on special teams. Scout teams, special teams, whatever he has to do to help us win. To see him fighting for a starting job, I mean it’s the same thing that Arndt did last year. Hopefully, Jon can make a difference for us on defense as well moving forward.
On what he is expecting to see out of senior safety Kyzir White this year
He made a bunch of plays last year. There wasn’t a huge adjustment period for him last year. We needed a Spur last year and he stepped in without a spring and gave us those good snaps. Just overall good play. He was consistent, he made plays, he is a force. He can run, he can hit, he can cover, he can blitz. More big plays more often I guess. Does that make sense?
On if there is anything to report on injuries this spring
No, I’m not going to talk about injuries ever again. I know it sounds like I am irritated and I am. We are going to talk about guys that play football. We aren’t going to talk about injuries anymore. If you are guilty, you are guilty, if you are not guilty, then ignore what I am saying, but too many people focus on injuries. This time of the year, who cares? We are trying to get guys healthy. We aren’t going to wear people out. Our job is to get guys ready to go that first Sunday night and that’s what we are going to do. In the meantime, I’m not going to talk about it.
Our vertical passing game has been fine. Shelton (Gibson) was good at it, (redshirt senior wide receiver) Ka’Raun (White) was good at it. Whether it is those two guys, whether it is some of the other guys that we have, (junior wide receiver) Jovon (Durante) is starting to make some plays downfield. (Sophomore wide receiver) Marcus Simms
made plays down field earlier in the spring, haven’t seen him in a month, but I’m not worried about that. We are going to have guys that can stretch the field. One thing that was said on signing day is the height of those guys being able to make a difference in the red zone when it came to red zone offense. Which, our red zone offense has been subpar. We need to score more inside the 40. Getting touchdowns will be important and those guys, with their length will be able to help us.
On if redshirt junior Will Grier’s arm strength also opens up some options
Yes, it does. He can make tight throws. In red zone offense you have to make tight throws, that field gets shrunk so you have to make tight throws. Will has the ability to make those throws. Whether it is him or whether it is the receivers making those tight catches, I like what I have seen out of our red zone offense so far.
On working on running the inside zone in spring practice
We are going to rep a lot of pass game today. We’ve ran the ball as much in these first 10 practices as I ever have. I like where we are at when it comes to that. Offensively, I like where we are at with it. There are some different things in the run game that we are experimenting with, just having (assistant coach (offensive line) (Joe) Wick (Wickline) and (assistant) coach (running backs) (Tony) Dews and (assistant coach (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks) Jake (Spavital), they bring some different ideas to the table that we are entertaining. It is the time of the year to be able to experiment with it just a little bit.
On if he is happy with the offensive tempo
Fast, extremely fast. We work it every practice. We have an abundance of two minute periods, four minute periods which is the opposite. I am forcing these guys to do that stuff every day, I am the official on it. I am working my game management skills as well. We can play as fast as anybody offensively. (Associate head coach (defensive coordinator/linebackers) (Tony) Gibby (Gibson) has always been able to line up to up-temp offenses as good as anybody. That is a big part of what the Big 12 is and we will continue to work that.